From the Pastor…December 2023

And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. — Luke 1:21

Christmas is waiting in my office as I write this to you. That’s right. The decorations and Christmas trees that will adorn the sanctuary at First are setting in my office waiting to be put up. I suspect that many of you have a little or a lot of Christmas waiting somewhere in your home, maybe somewhere in your life.

You know how it is when you’re waiting for grown children and grandchildren to come home for Christmas and all its gatherings. It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until they arrive. We also have Christmas traditions waiting that seem to be the essence of Christmas. For some of us it isn’t Christmas until we sing Silent Night in the glow of candlelight on Christmas Eve. Or it might not be Christmas for you until you smell Turkey roasting, or the Lutefisk.

Christmas is waiting, or maybe better put, we are waiting for Christmas. Sometimes we do that with gladness expectation and high hopes. But sometimes the waiting is not so glad. Sometimes it feels like we are waiting for a Christmas that is never going to arrive. Life delivers us hard blows, dear loved ones pass from this earth, and the years can feel like they have carried everything away. So sometimes we wait without hope, like the old priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. They had longed to have a family, but no children came and now they were too old. They believed there was nothing to wait for, no hope.

Then there are times when we wait with fear, afraid of what the coming days will bring. What will the results of the medical test say? Will I fit in at this new job or this new community? Will Christmas ever feel the same after a change in relationships, or residence, or now that the kids are grown? Imagine young Mary and Joseph on their way to pay taxes in Bethlehem, waiting for a child in a situation that neither of them could fully understand. What if all this was not a visit from an angel at all? They certainly had reason to wait in fear.

As the verse above says the people outside the Holy place in the Temple were waiting for Zechariah to come our after the sacrifice. They were waiting and wondering what took him so long. That long ago day all those people went home not knowing that the angel Gabriel had come to the Temple, not knowing what was about to take place. But you know. You know that the Lord God of heaven and earth had come to earth to be one of us, to be with us and for us. You know that Christmas is not waiting, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, died for us, and rose again. The light of the world has appeared. No matter what darkness surrounds you, in him you have hope. No matter what trouble threatens, you don’t have to be afraid, you have been given a Savior. So come, let us adore him: Christ the Lord.

A blessed and merry Christmas to all of you,

Pastor Terrill