Christmas message for a rare occasion

With the rare opportunity for a Christmas Eve service on Sunday, clergy are preparing their sermons. Common themes during the Christmas season are hope and miracles that directly relate to the Christmas story.

“We never had a chance to do a Christmas sermon but this year Christmas Eve falls on Sunday,” Pastor Paul Lance of First United Congregational Church of Christ of Alpena said. “And I think I’ll be talking about how busy even in the Christmas season in the Bible they were. Mary and Joseph were on the road because they had to pay taxes under a decree from the government. The holiday express was filled up.”

Many will return home for Christmas and attend church with families, it’s also a time to reconcile with loved ones, remembering old memories and forming new ones.

“I have wonderful memories of going to church when I was younger,” Pastor Neil Wilson of First United Congregational Church of Christ of Charlevoix. “What I remember most fondly are the early years of our married life and then with our children when they were young.”

He said Christmas is a reminder of reaffirming faith to Christians, still to some a reminder to be a regular John Doe, whatever one takes away from the message, religious or not. Something about the season of joy makes everyone just a little kinder.

“I think it helps people stay grounded in the real meaning of Christmas and for those who have some Christian background a reminder of what is at the heart of their faith,” he said. “Christmas for me is about faith and trust, not in the factuality of the accounts, but in the truth the Christmas story conveys about the divine and human relationship.”

Wilson said he will conduct the usual Sunday service but will include additional music and the message will focus on Mary’s response to the angel telling her she will give birth.

“How can this be? And the angel response was that Good would be with her and that nothing is impossible for God,” he said. “So even when we question what is happening in our lives good or difficult, God’s promise is to be with us.”

This year’s message at the First Assembly of God will be hope, Pastor Kerry Clark said. The church will hold one service Christmas Eve during the regular sermon so that members can enjoy family during the evening –as most churches will hold a special Christmas Eve evening service when Christmas usually lands on a week day.

“Last year we had carolers with a campfire, greeting people for the Christmas Eve night service,” Pastor Scott Joy of Word of Life Baptist Church said. “We hope to do that again this year.”

Beth Gohs can be reached via email at bgohs@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693.