This is the final day of a year most people wish had gone very differently, indeed. And while I understand that – I miss my friends and I miss the ease with which our community of faith could gather – I also think there has been much for which for which to give thanks.
And while some are bidding goodbye and good riddance to 2020, I find I’m less willing to dismiss this year.
There has been much to grieve in 2020, but there has also been a simplicity to this year. The things that matter have REALLY mattered. The things that couldn’t be done have mattered less. I admit I’m sad that I couldn’t travel this year – I had some good trips planned! – but I’m also more deeply thankful for home than I ever have been before. I am more deeply thankful for my country than I have been before. I’m not taking time with friends and family (much of which has been virtual, outdoors or short lived) for granted, the way I might have before.
At the end of the year, I find myself deeply grateful. So I want to share with you a song that Andrew Peterson wrote about thankfulness. This is, “Don’t you want to thank Someone.”:
Until next year (tomorrow!), dear friends, count your blessings and be thankful.
For most of us, Christmas was different this year. In my family, we stripped it back to just the basics. Just immediate family, no visitors, no shopping at the mall, no Boxing Day movie, no dinners out. Most of these things aren’t available in lockdown, anyway.
Christmas Eve included a Zoom service of Lessons and Carols with the good folks of Graceview. We were done by about 4:45pm. It was weird. But it was also wonderful. People showed up. We had about 30 participants and many of those included 2-3 people around one screen.
People were grinning and singing and waving at each other. I smiled so much that my cheeks hurt.
And you know what this Pandemic Christmas has taught us? Weird and different don’t have to be bad. There’s still an awful lot of joy to be found celebrating the birth of the Saviour. No matter what traditions we had to set aside, no matter how much we missed those we couldn’t gather with (a lot!!), no matter what else the day brought. It was still full of meaning, full of simply beautiful moments, full of celebration.
So, dear friends, until tomorrow – keep finding the beauty in the simplicity, keep focusing on the meaning of the season, keep celebrating the coming of the Christ.
Welcome to Sunday worship, for the first Sunday after Christmas. Dad and I are so delighted to be together and get to talk about the scriptures, to share music and prayers with you. This will be the simple format of worship this Sunday and next, and we pray it will be a blessing to you! (For Graceview people, there won’t be a formal Zoom fellowship for the next two Sundays – though if, informally, some members wanted to organize and get together virtually, you would have my absolute blessing!)
Here is our video of home-for-the-holidays worship:
And a couple of videos of extra music for your enjoyment. Here is Fountainview Academy doing “Joy to the World,” and BYU Vocal Point doing “The First Noel”:
Until tomorrow, dear friends, trust in the Light, which the darkness cannot overcome.
(Cause sometimes you need to take a break! And cause this is just too good.)
(And in case you’re having trouble reading it: “Christmas is the ultimate reminder of this: the God who set everything in motion, from the dance of the electron, to the orbit of the planets – the God who sustains everything took on flesh and stepped into the world that he had made, that we might not just know ABOUT him, but KNOW him.” – Andy Bannister)
This was an experiment from start to finish, but in the conversation afterwards, everyone seemed quite pleased (I’m still cringing over how my voice sounded as I sang with Dad!). Blessings, friends, it was a joy to gather with you virtually and I hope this will bless those of you who couldn’t come to the Zoom in person.
Here is the file of the manuscript of the service in case you’d like to print it off to follow along:
I know this year is different, I know many are isolated or only celebrating with those in their household. I have friends who’ve told me that they aren’t doing presents or decorating or special meals. But I hope in this stripped-down Covid Christmas, you’re still able focus on the whole point of all the traditions: that born for you is a saviour, who is Christ the Lord. That he lived, taught, died and rose again to secure your forgiveness. That he loves you dearly, and if you would let him, he’d walk with you daily through this life, giving peace and strength that the world cannot give.
Merry Christmas Eve. Be blessed, dear friends! (I won’t say ‘until tomorrow’ as I am hoping to have a Zoomy-Christmas Eve service to share later this evening on the blog! Blessings!)