Fall on your knees


O Holy Night!

The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

 

Fall on your knees

Oh hear the angel voices

Oh night divine

Oh night when Christ was born

Oh night divine

Oh night divine

(Placide Cappeau “Cantique de Noel”)

 

The Clergy Twitterverse (yes, that’s actually a ‘thing’) has blown up with the controversy of “do we or don’t we have worship on Christmas Day”.  I know.  It seems like a silly disagreement, but us clergy really do have strong opinions on this kind of stuff.  Bethel has made the choice not to have worship on Christmas Day because Session was of the opinion that there wouldn’t be anyone there.  So, holding worship on Christmas Day isn’t something this Community needs, or particularly wants.  Even though, this year, Christmas Day is a Sunday.  I’m perfectly ok with this decision, in case you wanted to know.  While I’m pretty committed to Sunday morning worship, I’m also pretty committed to paying attention to what Bethel and my Call to it as your minister.

 

The Clergy Twitterverse is pretty divided on the issue of whether to have worship in Christmas Day and its turned into the ‘worship wars’ of 2022.  There’s also a whole lot of ‘one upping’ other clergy with how busy we all are at this time of year.  I’ve seen people talk about 5 and 6 worship services on Christmas Eve, like it somehow makes them a better minister because they have so much going on.  You know that I’m pretty committed to rural and small church ministry, and don’t at all believe that ‘bigger is better’; but I do feel a little chagrined when I confess that Bethel only has one Christmas Eve Service and that its absolutely at the civilized time of 4pm so that all of us can be home and eating tourtiere by 7pm.  (And I didn’t even begin to talk about the argument I had with M & P over doing Christmas Eve at all.  “Its supposed to be your day off, your Sabbath”, they all said.  Yep – but its also Christmas Eve).  (I love our M & P committee – they take my well-being so much at heart).

 

Recently I had a conversation with a retired clergy who was really critical about Bethel not having worship on Christmas Day.  They were also really critical about many other aspects of ministry at Bethel; my education, rural ministry, small church ministry and so on and so on.  And here’s what’s really interesting; this person is brutally lonely and needy.  They have often brought up the fact that I don’t visit very often and that I’m not particularly attentive to them.  I walked away from the conversation feeling a whole lot like I was lower than a worm, and it took a rant at Hugh before I could actually see through the heaping criticism to the underlying message.  You see, this person also told me a story of the ’best Christmas Day service’ they had ever done; and it was one just after they’re granddaughter was born.  So, of course, the daughter and the granddaughter were Mary and the baby Jesus in the Christmas Day pantomime.

 

And I realized that the heaping criticism was not because they necessarily were trying to cut me down (although that was the result).  The heaping criticism was because they no longer felt that what they had, what they valued and what they worked so hard for was considered ‘good and right’ anymore.  And that all of the ‘heart and soul’ they had poured into their ministry and their church; even their life, because ministry is not ‘just a job’, its your life, had eroded away, and now it ‘didn’t matter anymore’.

 

We are a ‘world in sin and error pining’, aren’t we.  A world where we turn seek our validity by cutting other people down.  A world where only the biggest, the best and the brightest is good enough.  Where ‘freedom’ is weirdly equated with individualism and power rather than community and accountability to ‘least of these’.

 

We need God to appear in the middle of this pain.  The God that showed up for us as a baby, with all of the vulnerability and needs that babies have.  This is the God that will ensure our “souls felt their worth”.  Not a place of power.  Not a place where we are the ‘biggest, best or the brightest’, but a place where we humbly ‘fall on our knees’, so that we can ‘hear the angel voices’.

 

So today, my dear Bethel friends, if you’re feeling like someone is competing with you and ‘cutting you down’, I hope you’ll see behind the criticism, and recognize that their souls are hurting.  You don’t need to necessarily point that out to them (Yeah, that’s never a good idea, trust me!!!), nor do you necessarily need to stand their and take their belittling.  But I hope you’ll quietly sing ‘O Holy Night’ to yourself and realize that this ‘pining’ needs God.  And its only when we’re willing to ‘fall on our knees’ that we can hear God’s angels’ voices.

 

Blessings today and remember you are Loved.

~Rev .Lynne


4 thoughts on “Fall on your knees”

  1. Thank you for accepting that we want to be at home on Christmas morning. I played at one Christmas day service and my family just didn’t get it. The whole day was scheduled around a service for 8 people . Yes I recognize they were lonely but I felt lonely too away from my loved ones. Your devotion 24/364 is so appreciated that we gladly give you a day of peace, knowing that one call or email would bring you back if we need you. Take time to wallow in love, laughter, music, food and joy. 🎄

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this blog. I have long appreciated Christmas Eve services to ‘wind down’, greet those at the services, think of everyone, prepare quietly for the evening and coming day. The day means so many different things to people; often reflecting on the stage of life they are in; but such a wonderful time of the year. Thank you Lynne and blessings to you and your family. YOU are appreciated!

    Reply
  3. I am just reading this Blog-

    I love Christmas Eve ! – spending Spiritual time with my Bethel United Church Family …. hopefully young people would attend and be
    apart of the Worship.

    MUSIC is part of the Worship; thank you Choir, and Rev Lynne for giving of your talents ……. again, I love
    Christmas Eve.

    Reply
  4. Looking forward to Christmas Eve service service and recalling how lovely the candle light services were at Lombardy in previous years. So peaceful and simple compared to rushing to be ready and tearing kids away from the excitement of Christmas morning relaxing with Family and friends. Let’s spend Christmas Day being thankful and thanking God for all our blessings.

    Reply

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