Merry Christmas!!! One of the odd things about the Christmas season, of course, is that the cultural observance of Christmas essentially ends on Dec 25, when that is only the beginning of the Christian season of Christmas. As even the secular song says, there are actually twelve days of Christmas (though there is a surprising absence of partridges and pear trees, given the song) in which we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ, from December 25 through January 5; January 6 is the holiday of Epiphany, on which we celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, which marks the start of a new season in church life. So this Sunday, December 30, is the first (and only!) Sunday in the season of Christmas, and I hope you will join us as we consider “Jesus’ First Words” in the story of his visit to the Temple in Jerusalem as a boy.

Before we do that, though, I want to take the opportunity to thank all those who did so much to prepare the church for our Christmas Eve worship services. One of the things that this congregation has stressed in this new era of our life together is that we want to be a member-driven congregation, not a staff-dependent one. Few places was that commitment more evident than in the build-up to Christmas Eve, with teams of members taking the lead to decorate the church, usher and greet at all three services, provide welcome and assistance in the parking lot, reset the sanctuary between services, and even come in and clean the building after Christmas. Our youth even put out hundreds of luminary candle bags in the driveway on Christmas Eve! And we needed all of those hands to be ready to welcome what turned out to be around 1000 people (!) in worship at the three services on Christmas Eve, so a deeply-felt thank you to each and every person who helped!!!

I also want to say a special thanks to our staff who played such a crucial role in supporting our members, leaders, and worship services this past week. We are blessed with an extraordinary team of dedicated, collaborative and servant-minded people on our church staff, and the hours and energy they spent on facilities prep, special communications and advertising, bulletin production, music and worship planning, special pastoral care, special Preschool programs, and so much more helped ensure a very smooth, powerful, and well-attended season of special events during Advent and Christmas. It is truly an honor to work with each one of them.

So: I continue to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and hope to see you in worship!