“Good Christian Friends, Rejoice, with heart and soul and voice; now ye need not fear the grave; Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all, to gain the everlasting hall. Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!” – Third verse of “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” by John Mason Neale, ELW 288.
Merry Christmas! Yes, I know it is January. Did you think that Christmas has come and gone? I am here to remind you that Christmas is a season that is 12 days long. We have the opportunity to celebrate the mystery of our God being born a human baby until January 6th.
Our calendar gives us a blessed opportunity to take our time to celebrate baby Jesus. We get ample time to rejoice with heart, soul, and voice for our God, who became human. God was born as a baby for salvation for you and all people. We don’t have to hurry past this wonderful season. This season is a chance to pause and marvel at the mystery of the incarnation. I urge you to dwell in this Christmas time. It is for you that God became a human. It is for you and all creation that God died. The 12 days of Christmas are a blessed time.
I witnessed the Holy Spirit gather so many people for worship and fellowship this Christmas. Your family members visited to experience the Sunday School Program, which let us see the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the stable animals. Children and grandchildren returned for holiday celebrations and attended the Christmas Eve service, where we worshipped the God who became a human baby. The Holy Spirit gathered those needing community in times of isolation and social distancing for a Christmas day potluck. The Holy Spirit gathers people to this space to witness the good news of Jesus Christ and to receive the sacraments of Baptism and Communion.
As I continue to dwell in the season of Christmas, I will be singing one of my favorite Christmas hymns. John Mason Neale allows us to celebrate and rejoice in the incarnation. I love that in his third verse (at the top), he comments on how you no longer need to fear the grave because Christ is born. Jesus saves. God gives you forgiveness, healing, and life everlasting through the baby Jesus, who grows to minister to the poor, sick, and oppressed. God provides all creation with salvation through this baby who grows and dies on the cross and is resurrected.
Pastor Tyler Hoey, January 2023