Word of the Week: BROKEN
Merry Christmas! This year’s experience of Bethel worship services celebrating the birth of Jesus will not soon be forgotten. While it has been a mild December with minimal snow and moderate temperatures, the 23rd of December brought a storm and an arctic blast to our region. A dusting of snow provided a “white Christmas,” but temperatures tumbled into the single digits for Christmas Eve Day. The Christmas Eve worship schedule included three drive-in services with Holy Communion—two-afternoon services and a candlelight worship service at 10 PM. Many thanks to multiple volunteers who prepared and served communion, served as parking lot attendants, and provided music, and to our custodian Kevin who was able to turn off the overhead lights in the parking lot during the singing of Silent Night! While there were many details to tend to, many layers of clothing, many cold fingers, and even some frozen grape juice in the communion trays, we worshipped and celebrated the gift of Jesus’ birth.
In addition to drive-in worship services many thanks to Rachel Hasley, Bethel’s Director of Communication, and Brock Besse, Bethel’s Minister of Music, and countless other members of Bethel who provided a very special pre-recorded Christmas Eve service that premiered on our website on Christmas Eve. If you haven’t yet seen it, I highly encourage a little time to take it all in via this link. It is really terrific.
Bethel member Donna Anderson (who also happens to be 101 years young) read the Isaiah 9 text in the Christmas Eve Worship video. It includes this good news:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. (vs 2,4)
Indeed, the birth of Jesus, the Light, frees us from all that would oppress us, especially the weight of sin and death. Jesus, our Savior, is born to break us free so we may walk in the light.
On Christmas Day our plan was to Livestream worship from the sanctuary at 10 AM. This has become our “new normal” at Bethel from the moment things shut down in March. We have been so blessed to have the ability to Livestream worship each Sunday from our sanctuary and post it on our website. But on Christmas Day … the computer equipment that allows us to record and transmit worship was BROKEN! After all the details and organization of Christmas Eve services was accomplished and went so well, who could have imagined something that had worked so well in the past would suddenly be broken.
Perhaps it is fitting that our equipment would just finally give in to the burden of 2020. We have leaned heavily upon this equipment in the last 9+ months and it was likely tired . . . the yoke of the burden of the year was enough to break it. So, we are looking into new equipment for 2021 that will restore the abilities we have to share worship via the internet and our website.
As I was leaving Bethel on Christmas Day morning, feeling a bit defeated by the broken equipment and not being able to provide the worship service in real-time for people who had tuned in to watch, I noticed something next to my car. There on the curb was one of the ice luminarias we had set out the night before in preparation for the Christmas Eve Candlelight service. We had placed battery-operated small tea lights in each luminaria and were told they had about a two-hour life to them, so they’d burn during the service. After the service, we picked all of them up and turned them off for use again at Epiphany. We must have missed this luminaria next to my car. And I looked inside to discover that the light was still shining! It had been nearly 13 hours since it was set the night before and still in the cold of the day it was shining its light. That little light lifted my broken spirit and gave me hope and joy.
No matter the broken places of our lives or this world, and there are many, the good news of Christmas is our greatest hope and joy, “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. On them, LIGHT has shined.” Blessings to you as you continue to celebrate the light of Christ and the light that carries us into a new year.
Graced by the Gospel,