In a little bit, this sanctuary will be filled with voices, laughter, singing, greetings — it’ll be filled with life.
And when the people gather, my prayer is that hope, peace, joy, love, and grace are palpable.
But for now, it’s just me. Alone.
This quaint sanctuary seems so big right now. And so peaceful.
I came here early to go over my notes; change any aspect of the sermon; make sure things are in order; but mostly I’m here to just… be.
It’s such a sin that I don’t intentionally carve out more time for holy moments of solitude throughout my days.
I’m mostly sitting and enjoying what God has to offer in this silence.
Because in a bit, I’ll be playing a version of myself as the pastor who feels the pressure to always be “on” and friendly.
To laugh at the always incoming jokes about how folks don’t recognize me because I’m wearing a suit. (Every church I have been part of makes that joke… And I’m sure some of the old school folks would appreciate seeing the pastor on Christmas Eve wear a robe. I know it’s all mental — but I can’t preach in a robe. It’s too discomforting and distracting. I’m already a distracted person as is, so I don’t need more distraction. I think it’s the sleeves. Maybe I should look into buying some sleeveless robes. Do they have those?)
To make sure I don’t say anything incriminating or offensive (easier said than done if you’re me).
And when I say “I’ll be playing a version of myself” I don’t mean it in any negative terms. Not at all. It’s simply the truth for all of us clergy. We can’t always be completely ourselves when we’re “on.”
So this moment of silence is a nice change of pace.
And I also want to make sure I’m right with God.
Because I’m nervous. I always get nervous on Sunday mornings — but it varies in degrees of nervousness, usually depending on what I’m preaching on. And I’m nervous because I want to do well. I want to give a good sermon. I want to hit one out of the park. I want people to feel like they haven’t wasted their evening. I want… and there lies the problem. The “I” and the “want.” We all have a tendency to make it about ourselves.
It’s nice to submit myself to the silence that surrounds me and make sure that this is about God and not about me. Besides, there’s pressure removed and assurance received when I realize that it’s not about me.
I’m sure after service, I’ll be wired and stay up way too late. My body will want sleep, but my mind will be traveling at the speed of thought. I’ve had way too much coffee. And usually the adrenaline of the night’s event takes a little longer to leave my body.
I’m sure at some point in night, I’ll wonder why we don’t spend Christmas Eve out in the community and why we insist on meeting within the building of the church. The birth of Jesus wasn’t announced in the temple or the synagogues. It was in the fields. To the outcast gang of shepherds.
Last night, my wife cooked some grilled cheese and we took it over to her church to feed some of the homeless friends who hang around that area. I couldn’t shake of the sense that that felt like a Christmas Eve service for me– maybe more than one I’ll be leading tonight.
The sun has set. The lights are on. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in here.
I’m getting excited as I anticipate leading worship with the great and loving folks here.
Wherever you find yourself tonight, I hope that you have a very blessed and Merry Christmas.
May the hope, peace, joy, love, and grace of God be ever so present.