When I was about 5 years old, I was beginning to strongly doubt the existence of Santa. At Christmas time, however, I found myself wanting to believe. I can remember as a young child sitting in church on Christmas Eve and ignoring the majority of the sermon while trying my very best to think up all the even reasons why maybe Santa might actually be real. Though my mind couldn’t buy into it anymore, my spirit still wanted that big elf from the north to appear.
Christmas is a time of year when many people want to believe in God even when their minds revolt against it. God softens the hearts and minds of people at Christmas who want to believe in a God who loved us enough to become human and dwell among us, but who struggle with the evidence they have experienced. Somehow, God hasn’t shown up in their lives the way the think God should, so they struggle to believe a God of divine love can be real. But at Christmas time, they occasionally allow themselves to ponder what it would be like if the great God they’ve heard others talk about was real rather than just the wishful thinking of the spiritually inclined.
For this reason, people will show up for church Christmas musicals and candlelight Christmas Eve services who would not darken the door of a church any other time of year. And as they hear the soloist hit the high notes of O Holy Night or as they hold their candle in the darkened sanctuary and sing Silent Night, they just might allow themselves to wonder for a moment if perhaps the story of God coming to earth could possibly be too good not to be true rather than too good to be true.
These are sacred moments when many people unexpectedly find faith, hope, and purpose.
But people don’t just happen to show up at Christmas Eve services. Most of the time, they show up because a friend invited them. Will you be that friend this year?
If you go to church with me at Concord United Methodist, will you grab a handful of the Christmas Eve cards found at the information stations and give them to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers? Or will you send them an email inviting them to sit with you at the service in which you share this link: concordumc.com/Christmas
If you go to church elsewhere, will you find a flyer, or card, or website link to share? Will you let your friends now that if they show up on Christmas Eve they’ll have friend like you to sit with?
This year, will you invite someone to join you in celebrating the fact that at Christmas we discover a real man who long ago really travelled through the heavens to our homes on earth and who still seeks to make His home with us today?