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The Best Part of Waking Up…

20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24 (NIV)

During the Christmas season there are some great commercials. In fact, some of them are so good that they are repeated year after year!

A favorite of these for me is the Folger’s Commercial…you know the one… where the son comes home unexpectedly to be with the family at Christmas and makes a pot of coffee to wake up the household to announce his presence.

GREAT commercial!

I even remember the product, not just what happened.

Of course the reason we like it so much is that it gets to the core attraction of the Holidays for so many of us…not the food, not the presents, and – while it is a little dangerous for me to say this – not even the religious symbolism of the season. The core of the holidays for many is simply being together and present with those we love!

I say this because “The Holidays” are primordial… they extend across many religions, not just Christianity. There is something about moving into the winter of the year that causes us to want to be with our loved ones, to know that they are okay and to share with them the many experiences that make this season so special… a little different for every family or community… but similar in that it is a time to be present with those we love.

I am sure my comments have raised the blood pressure for one or two of you. You are saying, “JESUS IS the reason for The Season!”

Relax. For we who are Christians, that is undoubtedly true.

But even in our Christian celebration of this season, we acknowledge the part of Christ’s story that emphasizes His presence with us; that God became flesh and dwelt among us!

Jesus could be the one sneaking into the kitchen to start the coffee brewing!

But instead He snuck in via a little town of Bethlehem. And instead of the aroma of coffee it was the chorus of angels that announced His Presence. A bit more creative than the coffee commercial, but a similar message.

It’s almost as if God, the Father, got tired of waiting for the prodigal to come to his senses and instead of waiting and seeing us from afar… came to find us wallowing in the pig sty! God just couldn’t wait to wrap His arms around us, the prodigal, and say, “You are my child and no matter what has passed, you are welcome here! I have missed you.”

And this is how it is with our Christmas Celebration. We honor the presence of Christ in the midst in the reunion of those who have been scattered by life… work, marriage, school, sickness or just a wanderlust that took us away from “home”. And as we gather, we throw our arms around one another and say you are always welcome here, no matter what! You are loved!

It is my hope that not only the family celebrations but the church celebrations this Christmas season communicate that message.

No jokes about those “C&E Christians”.

No judgment about where they have been or what brings them back.

Just, “You ARE LOVED!”

Prayer: Lord, help me to communicate to all this holiday season that they are loved…loved by me and by others, but most importantly by You – The Christ. That will truly make this time “Christ’s Mass”. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister


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