Final Messages and Greetings1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NRSV)
Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
‘Twas the week before Christmas, it had been quite a year.
Through emails and zooms, they tried hard to spread cheer.
But the church doors were closed, a pandemic had come,
And the only safe place to be, was at home.
They missed their church family. They felt lonely and sad,
And a few, from the decision to close, were quite mad.
But in Oldtown, they think of the small and the tall,
The old and the young, and the safety of ALL.
As the months went by, they began to adjust.
They didn’t really want to, but it was it a must.
They opened their eyes to see glimpses of grace
Which soon were seen all over the place.
Worship, for months, had been happening online.
The people who watched it, they said it was fine.
But it wasn’t the same as it had been before
Since the day they decided to close the church door.
No hugs, no fellowship, no time for chats.
Instead during coffee hour, they met each other’s cats!
And then the questions began to arise
As neighbors Christmas lights shined in their eyes.
How would Christmas happen if they weren’t in their pews,
Without poinsettias and pageants and those little candles to use?
Sure, in worship online, advent candles were lit
From their beds, or their couches, or wherever they chose to sit.
They lit one for hope, one for peace, one for joy,
As they waited for the gift of that little baby boy
Who would come very soon, pandemic or not,
And remind them all, right there on the spot
That it matters not the time, or the date, or the space.
It matters not even if you have a mask on your face.
Because Jesus will come, if we’re ready or not,
And teach us about some of the things we forgot.
He’ll teach us to love, and to reach out to others,
Reminding us all, to love our fathers and mothers.
Speaking of moms, his was meek and mild,
And she did her very best to take care of her child.
He was born in a stable, for, “No room,” they had said.
But from the kindness of animals, there was hay for his head.
We’ve all heard the story of the shepherds and kings
And the angels who, on high, spread their fine wings
To share the good news which we all need to hear.
Because it helps us to know that we have nothing to fear.
Whether our church doors are open, or our church doors are shut,
We ARE still the church, no matter what!
The building is always a nice place to be,
But God is not there, God is right here in me!
And not only that, God is in you, too,
When you remember what Jesus taught you to do.
This Christmas, as you sit and worship from home,
Please don’t think that you sit there worshiping alone.
And remember, it’s not a time to sit and to pout
About ALL the things you’ve been living without.
But instead, to remember what happened that day
And the story of God coming our way.
The story of angels and shepherds and kings,
The story of all kinds of unexpected things.
Of Mary with child, who was not married yet,
And poor Joseph who was beginning to fret.
But an angel came to quell their fears,
And assured them that for many years,
The prophets had promised a chosen one
Whose life, through them, was about to come.
So instead of reacting with anger or fear,
They praised God, for the message was clear.
That even though life doesn’t go as you plan,
You should still love others as much as you can.
After all, as Jesus so often taught,
Faith is something like fish, that must be caught.
It’s caught by loving people just as they are
And letting them know that they are loved by far.
And that nothing you’ve done, or will ever do
Will change God’s unconditional love for you!
Because being yourself will always suffice
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to be nice.
Because life isn’t easy. Some people are mean,
And they say things and do things, to quite an extreme.
But St. Paul to the church in Corinth once wrote
A few words to act as a special an antidote.
“Keep alert. Stand firm. Be strong and courageous.
Because your actions, to others, can be quite contagious.
“And remembering the grace of God above,
Let all that you do, be done in love.”
So this Christmas, as we long to gather again,
Let us all take time to reach out to a friend.
Write a note. Make a call. Send a card in the mail
To let them know that God’s love never fails!
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, if you can,
Share God’s love with every woman, child and man!
Because love is something important to share
Not only with others but also through self care.
Let’s brighten our corner of the world, if we can,
By carrying the candle of love in our hand.
This Christmas, I pray that before too long,
Our doors will be opened, and we’ll all sing along
To the songs in our hymnals and those in our hearts
That remind us that Christmas is where it all starts.
But until that day comes, I hope you will find
The love of God, in your body soul and mind.
As we finish this rhyme, may it be so,
And thanks be to God from the people below.
May your Christmas be merry, and your New Year be bright,
And may you love your neighbor with all your might.
With a heartfelt wish for good will to all men.
Let us finish this story with a joy-filled “Amen!”