God’s relentless affection
Frigimageddon is on its way, everybody who’s anybody in meteorology says so, and like the consistent quality of Christmas Eve sermons, predicting the weather is such an exact science. wink
All kinds of instructions are being given about how to safely travel, what to carry in case of emergency, and thankfully, lists of all the places folk can stay for warmth and shelter if they have none. Whether it snows or even how much, is less the challenge than the temperatures and wind. Just as it probably has yours, Frigimageddon has already changed our Grace life this week.
A) The Poinsettias arrived yesterday for the sanctuary for Christmas Eve, Eve and Christmas Eve services, instead of on Thursday or Friday. The flower people were clear that even if they double wrap those deep red and sharp-edged flowers we know and love, with windchills at -25 to -35 or lower on both Thursday and Friday, they would not survive even the short time of moving them from shop to truck and from truck to sanctuary. I love them, the flowers I mean, trumpeter lilies at Easter are one thing, but Poinsettias?!!? I’m a deeper color vegetation lover – deep purples, yes and blues and crimsons, and greens and golds and pinecone browns. There is both the earthiness of the stable and manger, as well as the deep midnight blue skies with the piercing bright stars. Poinsettia arrival reminds me that Christmas Eve really is within sight – a specter that is both anxiety-producing and exciting at the same time – maybe a little of the Mary and Joseph feeling on their arrival at Bethlehem. It is being at the threshold of a future unwritten, yet with faith that as the Angel told Mary from the very beginning, (because yes, Mary DID know snort) “nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Then B) the last chapter of our Advent study was supposed to be Thursday morning – the visit to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Future and his new “wokeness” (see what I did there?) on Christmas morning where he celebrates the possibilities, he still has for showing generosity and love to his family, friends, and community. Redemption replaces bah-humbugness and we recognize God wants good things for all of us, regardless of how long we’ve lived in selfishness and greed. How in the world are we not supposed to have that class that brings the Dickens Christmas Carol Advent study to its glorious and grace-filled end?!!? BTW, if you are a student in the class, we WILL be having the last class-time on zoom and the comprehensive final exam will STILL be given and monitored! snort
Back to point A). The Poinsettias arrived in a rather large truck which backed up beside the trash bin house on the south side of the sanctuary. Backing into that spot isn’t the easiest, and I must say, as a future RV trailer-backer who has tried enough times to know I haven’t tried enough times to be good at it, it was a bit gratifying that he did a couple of 5 point turns before getting it backed into where it needed to be. The best thing about this year is they had the flowers on double-level hand-truck wheeled carriers – they came in way faster than on our little black rollie carts. The wonderful blasts of deep red are placed and bringing a life to the sanctuary that anticipates the message of birth and life – the jagged edges reminding us that God with us didn’t instantly make life perfect and smooth, that in time the imperfections of our humanity finally would not accept God’s unconditional love and grace on this earth. And God still had/has the last Word – “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” John 1:5
Perhaps my less than attractive bits of snark and frustration about the upcoming frigimageddon that for some reason could not wait til AFTER Christmas Eve, Eve; Christmas Eve; and Christmas Day should take a step back and recognize that Jesus comes in fair and foul weather; in ice and snow; on days that Chiefs play whether they finally look like a Superbowl contender or not; when there’s room in the Inn and when there’s not. As author and speaker William Paul Young said in our video last Sunday, “God pursues us with relentless affection” and that deciding to receive that and finally being confronted by it on our “judgment day” beyond the veil of earth will be the crisis. To suddenly and for eternity realize God has been relentlessly pursuing us with affection and not with judgment and condemnation. Suddenly and completely, on God’s side of heaven, realizing how much time and life we may have wasted on this earth fearing and awaiting our own likely condemnation while also too often offering unasked for judgment and condemnation of others.
Maybe we don’t have to wait past the veil of this span of life to recognize and receive the redemption that Scrooge celebrates – maybe we can too this year, even in the midst of a fridgimageddon, receive the gift of God’s grace that we cannot earn, but can live into with the faith and thanksgiving that empowers us to live in grace and generosity beyond limitation and fear.
The Poinsettias are in place, the candles in bins ready to be handed out in welcome to every hale and hardy pilgrim venturing out on a cold winter’s night. Make the best choice for your own and those you love safety the next several days. Bundle up, lay in some supplies, find your thermal layers (cuddle buddies may the best) to put on for a Christmas Eve, Eve, and/or Christmas Eve services of candlelight and communion at a church near you – maybe even Grace if you’re in the area! We will also be livestreaming at 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. And when, not simply if, but when you suddenly feel without any warning, that you are the most loved and embraced human being that was ever created, know that it’s true! Christ the Savior, Emmanuel – God with us, is born!!!