By Rev. J. Pete Hyde
The morning broke cold and blustery – temperatures in the 30’s and wind chill in the teens. As I lay in the half-slumber that is early morning, I looked out the window that sheltered me from the cold winter’s day. The sun was just touching the tree tops with a splash of bright yellow that shown in stark contrast against the cold blue of the winter sky. I pulled the covers up a little, not really wanting to leave the warmth, solitude and peace of the quiet house to face the day. But face it I must. I sit now in my office, Christmas music playing, wondering when the office will finally get warm, trying to find some inspiration for this week’s message. The typical, clichéd words of the season come to mind through the music mentioning drummer boys, silver bells, cattle lowing, being home for Christmas and mama kissing Santa Claus. What new is there to say? It’s all been said hasn’t it? Why not just tell folks to listen to some Christmas music today and they’ll get the message. But, what message will they get? Will they get a message that is not remotely tied to the Christmas message? Will they get a message that paints a picture of the perfect family and perfect Christmas in the midst of lives that are full of chaos, struggle, grief and stress?
I don’t think Christmas is about having another “Hallmark moment” telling us that no matter what, there are always happy endings. Sometimes there are no happy endings. Sometimes this thing called “life” is not sweet and syrupy and doesn’t end up with a guy in a red suit flying across the face of a full moon declaring “Merry Christmas to all and too all a good night,” or Jimmy Stewart proclaiming, “It’s a wonderful life.” Sometimes we want to pull the covers up over our heads in the quiet of the morning and not face the expected chill of the season. Have you ever said to yourself, “Maybe I can just hide out until New Year’s Day and it will all be over!” The music filters into my mind once again through an upbeat, modern arrangement of “Angels We Have Heard on High” by Steven Curtis Chapman. With extended “Glorias” accompanied by drums, guitar and keyboard bombarding me with the message of the season, the touch of the Spirit taps me on the shoulder (more like slaps me on the back of the head). Angels announced the coming of the One who came to dwell among us. You remember Immanuel – God with us. He is with us in the grief, stress and struggle that is accentuated during this season. He crawls under the covers with us on the days when we pull them tightly over our heads not wanting to face another day of fake sweetness. He has come to put his arm around our shoulders and walk the path of life with us. This is the gift of Christmas!
Immanuel – God with us! This is what we celebrate! So climb out from under the covers for “God is with us!”
Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach