A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery
It happened again – I gathered a group of friends to sing hymns of the season, and opened up the floor for requests from our new hymnal, Glory to God, which includes seventy-five Advent and Christmas hymns. Along with all the old favorites are many less-familiar contemporary and international carols. I invited people to consider calling out something unknown to us. Who knows what new treasures we might discover? And as has happened so often in the past, everyone opted for old gems instead. We never weary of the favorite carols of the season.
Christmas reveals how deeply the human heart longs for that which endures. We are far more captivated by timeless treasures than by novelties. Sometimes we do need to be pushed beyond our comfort zones, but today let us celebrate the great comfort and joy we find in the old, old story of Jesus’ birth.
The Christmas story never grows old. From an unplanned pregnancy to the no-vacancy inn to rapturous angels to consternated shepherds to mystic magi to the rough cradle caressing heaven’s greatest treasure, the drama of Christmas never loses its thrill. The humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth only underscore the wonder of God choosing to come and live among us.
How sad if we become so world-weary, or even church-weary, that we lose all sense of marvel at the incarnation that transforms the world! Christmas is heaven’s thunderous declaration that God will do whatever it takes to make right all that is wrong in us and around us. Jesus has come, everything has changed!
Why do most churches see more people in worship at Christmas than at any other time of the year? Are people coming just to put in an obligatory annual appearance? A recent national survey indicates otherwise. Whether or not they are regular church-goers, people yearn to honor Jesus, and on Christmas they feel a connection to him that is deeper and more abiding than what they find anywhere else. They experience a connection with the sublime through familiar texts and carols, all telling a story that never grows old. It’s bedrock. Here, we know we will find Jesus. And that is what we long for more than anything else.
So sing those old songs yet again with gladness. Bow once more before the manger in holy awe. Revel in the love of God that Christmas reveals like nothing else. O come, let us adore him – Christ the Lord!
Wishing a blessed Christmas to all,
The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister
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