Growing up in Minnesota, I got accustomed to white Christmases. We didn’t have a white Christmas every year, but it was a reasonable expectation. Do I miss it? Maybe a little, but we did get our taste of snow recently in Orting. My kids had a blast making snow angels and giggling while I pulled them in the sled up and down our street. In the end, though, the snow disappeared the next day without me shoveling it. Part of me was happy but another part was sad.
This year, Christmas is going to be very different. To begin with, it probably won’t be a white Christmas here, but also traditions are starting to change. There were many things we did in southwest Minnesota that joyfully ushered in the season of Christmas, activities that we are not a part of this year. There was Holiday Fest, for example, where we lived. The highlight was walking up and down Main Street eating soup at the various businesses. Then, around 6 p.m., the lighted Holiday Fest parade started and then the grand finale — fireworks. And let me tell you, fireworks when the temperatures are in the single digits are more brilliant and louder than on the Fourth of July. That I miss. Some of those old traditions are gone but new ones are being discovered. The old, non-negotiable traditions, though, will remain. You don’t mess with certain things.
One of the things that makes Christmas so special are those traditions that never get touched no matter what. For my family, it is homemade pizza with pepperoni, green olives and sauerkraut followed by reading “The Christmas Story” and then opening gifts. You don’t mess with my sauerkraut and “The Christmas Story.” And this year, those traditions will be at my parents’ winter home in Arizona. Oh well ... pizza and Jesus will still be good there.
Whatever your traditions, Christmas is not Christmas without Jesus. That’s a non-negotiable. All churches will be having some kind of Christmas worship service. Some do a candlelight service like we do at Living Word. Some have brass music, bell chimes or some other special music. Whatever the case, we have our traditions, and whatever your Christmas traditions are, I hope it includes worship of God our Father through Jesus Christ. Check your local paper or search online and you’ll find a Christmas worship service near you. Living Word has Christmas Eve worship at 5 p.m. at the Meridian Habitat with a living Nativity and candle lighting service, and then Christmas Day worship is at 9 a.m.
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No matter where I go, no matter what state I live in, no matter who I am with, Jesus is always there — for Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus is life. So in the hustle and bustle of your Christmas season, remember Jesus. Worship him and give thanks for the love that God has shown. May your traditions always include Jesus at Christmastime and beyond.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Pastor Eric Hullstrom leads the congregation at Living Word Lutheran Church (LCMC) in Puyallup. His personal site is heartofapastor.blog.