BY REV. CORY L. KEMP |
Watching my friend lead worship this past Sunday I immediately noticed that her congregation’s Christmas decorations were still up, including the tree, situated behind her and to her left. She and the tree shared a lot of screen time as she led us through prayers, scripture readings, and communion. I thought about how interesting it was because so many people rush to take down their beautiful lights, garlands, and figurines as quickly as possible after December 25th has passed.
In her sermon, she talked about the decorations, the importance of remembering the fullness of the season, all the stories surrounding Christ’s birth as we came with the Wisemen to Sunday’s Epiphany celebration. The Christmas decorations were meant to keep us focused on the whole story in all of these stories combined.
Did you know that your story is an important part of these stories too? Perhaps you haven’t thought of that before, but now you can add your own story to this collection as well. You are part of the Christmas story that is God with Us. You are part of the whole story of our Christian church and the seasons of the church year themselves. Can you imagine yourself visiting the stable and traveling with the Wisemen as they shared the good news of meeting the newborn king? Can you imagine how your life shares the Good News that you have received and makes the church more than it was before you came along?
You may not be able to imagine anything of the kind. Perhaps most of us can’t imagine such things.
You may see yourself more like another friend of mine who still had her Advent stars up last night too. She thought it would be nice to enjoy them for one more night as we talked on the phone. She was planning on taking them down along with her garlands and lights, and packing them away today. Most of us pack up these precious treasures and look forward to savoring them again each year. But we make a mistake if we also pack away the fullness of the Christmas message by not honoring the impact it has made in our lives each year through the way we live in the year that follows.
I believe that, particularly for those of us living in the United States right now, it is important to steadfastly claim the Christmas narrative that is most simply God with Us beyond the weeks of Advent and Christmastide. Whatever else is going on in your life, your community, our country, and the world, those three words hold all of our power. Because we believe this, our belief informs all the other stories of the church year.
Do you compartmentalize your beliefs or faith into expressing whatever part of the church year it is in which we stand? We have entered the Epiphany, the time of year when as Christians we share the Good News, the Gospel message that God is with us, loves us, and sustains us. But if you have not experienced the Good News yourself, built on it by God’s grace imparted to you throughout the year, it is a harder message to live and grow and share. And, as Lent comes next in our church year, to me it feels better knowing that as we are headed into the wilderness, we have Someone to hold onto who will hold onto us, Someone we already know and love who loves us.
It is important to move with and through the seasons of the church year, honoring how each impacts life and informs our journey. There is a depth and richness to all of this that can be lost when we limit the celebration or observance of a season to what the calendar tells us. You and I know that for everything there is a time and purpose under heaven; we also know that everything works together for good for those who love God. Because we are paying attention for God’s activity. Not just in certain ways at specific times of the year, but all year, every year.
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.