A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.Luke 2:7

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas to you all. May God’s blessings be upon us all this Christmas and throughout the upcoming year. Here we are at the very start of the Christmas season, the first Sunday of Advent behind us with the candle of hope on the Advent wreath lit. Now we move into the season in earnest, planning and delivering special services, special music, a cantata, the Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols, and a Christmas morning service, to say little of everything that must be done around the house and presents sought out for the big day. And the baking, the glorious baking … with hot Christmas cookies … but I digress. When I was in seminary, we were released from classes with the last paper turned in and final exams behind us, discovering we had exactly two weeks before Christmas day. So focused were we on completing seminary classes, working our jobs outside the seminary walls, doing our best to be good spouses and parents, that it just didn’t hit us clearly how close Christmas was until the dawn of the new day, the first day of our Christmas break. Panic set in and we exploded into “festive” holiday motion.

With the busy lives we live, with the various demands on our time, pressures to create that “perfect Christmas experience” as presented by those classic movies of yore, painters like Norman Rockwell, and all that “fa la la la la” festive music surrounding us, it is really hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Sometimes, when the pressure is exceedingly high, or we’ve had a year of painful loss or disappointment, part of us just wants to get through and put it all behind us. It’s easy to end up feeling like Charlie Brown complaining to Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” Sometimes, we just don’t feel we have any room at the inn of our lives to let in Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.

The innkeeper had his establishment filled to the rafters. But, a person of compassion, seeing Mary’s situation clearly, they received what would have been a cave beyond the place, that acted as an animal stable. There she could give birth to her child without people crowded on every side. Can we do the same for Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. This year they have come much farther than the 90 miles between Nazareth and Bethlehem to be with us. They have traveled two thousand years into the future with their message of great joy to all people. Will we make room for them, despite everything happening with family and friends? Will we pause for a few quiet moments with this special family and share in their joy, the birth of the savior of the world? Will we stop, breathe deep, and truly experience the “Silent Night”, the “Night Divine” this year?

Please join us on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, at 5 p.m. for a service of lessons and carols. Join us Sunday, December 25, Christmas morning at 10:30 a.m. and be treated to our Christmas Cantata.

Merry Christmas from the First-Calvary Baptist Church staff.

Pastor Jeff


Photo by Cristina Glebova on unsplash