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Pastor’s Note


Christmas in September

Like many of you, I have sat in the Lodge, listened to James sing “That Spirit of Christmas” at the end of another Fa-La-Lodge performance, and thought, “Why can’t it remain all through the year?” Well, this year it can … in at least one particular way.

If you enter Southwood on Sunday, September 11, and think you hear sounds of “Joy to the World” and other classic Christmas carols, you’re probably right. That date is scheduled to be Christmas in September for us this year since we will be arriving at the classic Christmas story in Luke 2 in our sermon series through Luke’s gospel. It’s a chance to remember in a unique way this year that the spirit of Christmas really should impact every moment of every day.

The reason I can say that is that Christmas is properly a celebration of the coming of Christ (that’s, of course, what the word “Christmas” means!). And while the birth of baby Jesus in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago is a signal event—the incarnation of the Son of God himself—it was certainly not the last time or the only way that Jesus came toward us. The pattern of his life and ministry was one of coming to people, meeting them where they were, and offering them the hope of a Savior. He has come to us in our sin and misery to provide forgiveness and salvation, he has come to us in our grief and fear with the comforting presence of his Holy Spirit, he has come to us in our weakness with his divine strength.

Sometimes I can get confused—my mind clouded by the busyness of life, the darkness of doubt, or the lies of self-dependence—and feel that Jesus is playing a game of cosmic “hide-and-seek.” But he’s not. In fact, while the sin of my heart or the brokenness of this world may be keeping me from seeing him clearly, it is exactly into those types of situations that “the Word became flesh.”

The incarnation at Christmas is a vivid picture of Jesus running TOWARD my pain, not away from it. We see him rushing, like a first responder, into the dangerous flames of a crumbling building intent on rescuing. We see him condescending, like a parent bending over to lift a fallen child, from the glories of heaven to the humility of a stable.

And so Luke 2 will tell us that the birth of this Savior—the coming of God to us—is “good news of great joy for all people.” Jesus is himself a message of hope, comfort, and joy not only on December 25 but also on September 11 (and every day in between). The Christmas season is one that is often full of pain and heartache for some of us. The Christmas season is one that is often full of overwhelming stress and anxiety for others of us. If that’s true for you each December, I hope that celebrating Christmas in September will be a breath of fresh air for you, a chance to find the coming of Jesus to you and for you to be good news of great joy for you.

See, that spirit of Christmas remains all through the year from the perspective of Jesus—he continues to come to us. We are the ones who often stop living in that reality. Join me in taking advantage of celebrating Christmas in September to allow the spirit of Christmas to remain in us all through the year. In contemplating Jesus coming to us, experience the comfort Jesus brings in the midst of our pain and sadness, feel the hope Jesus brings to a world full of despair, and share with others in your world the joy of “coming to them” in their brokenness that Jesus has done for you. That’s the spirit of Christmas that others should feel in us and through us all year long.