So, I have a confession to make: I am sort of a Christmas Grinch. I cringe when I begin to see signs of Christmas displayed in stores, online, and on TV. I roll my eyes and almost let out an audible “ugh” when I begin hearing Christmas songs piped through the sound systems while doing my regular old, not at all Christmas related shopping in the weeks (and even months) leading up to Christmas. And, I scratch my head when I drive by elaborate displays of lights, inflatables, etc. on people’s houses and in their yards (even as Jabali delightfully remarks without fail, “There’s Christmas!”).
But something happened as I gathered with many of you in our beautifully decorated sanctuary last evening for a service of Candlelight and Carols: I got into the Christmas spirit! Listening again to the scriptures of the season beginning with the original blessedness of creation and singing deeply meaningful Advent and Christmas carols nudged me forward and invited me to open up. And, the beautiful sounds of the bell choir, vocal choir, and soloist (Jean-Paul Etienne) and offering prayers that bring these ancient stories into our lives today beckoned me to take a step further and release my curmudgeonly thoughts and feeling. But, it was the simplicity of the melody of “Away in a Manger” being played by young fingers on the piano, the joy and exuberance of the children singing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” (with accompanying saxophone, guitar, clapping, and jazz hands), and the all-encompassing, thunderous congregational singing of the “Hallelujah” chorus (under the tremendous direction of Eric Meincke and lead of Hansol Kim and our fabulous vocal choir) that shattered any remaining resistance I had to embracing and opening myself to the life-changing gift of the Advent/Christmas season. My heart indeed grew three sizes last night experiencing Candlelight and Carols with so many of you.
If you were not able to join us for worship last evening, I encourage you to visit our Vimeo channel and open yourself to the experience. And, if you were present last night, I invite you to revisit that moment again and again throughout this holiday season. Click here and let the Christmas spirit flow!
Rev. Jessica Petersen-Mutai, Senior Minister