Live Worship Services with some COVID-19 precautions in place
Sundays at 11 AM.
November 28, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy"
First posted on November 22, 2020
We are currently giving our crew a break from producing videos. We will continue to have live services on Sunday mornings. Eighteen months of videos are available in our Video Archive. For now, we will feature one of these re-runs on our home page every week. If there was a video you particularly liked or one you were sorry you missed you can find it in the Archive. Newsletters and the letter "To the Church Family" will continue every week.
To the Church Family
Born in the Night, Mary's Child
November 28, 2021
By John Wiederholt, Pastor
The record of Jesus’ birth is sketchy. Luke gives us the highlights and leaves out a lot of the routine, birth details which we record like time of birth. We are, however, pretty sure that the holy child was born in the night. The angels appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks by night and the heavenly host would be even more memorable against the dark sky.
I have for many years thought that most babies were born at night. That’s what my grandmother always said. The father or whoever brings news of the birth always seems to have been up all night and so on. But now there is what seems to be conclusive evidence from a government study that most babies in the United States are born between 8 a.m. and noon. If Jesus were born in the morning Christmas pageants and Christmas cards would need massive revisions. But wait. The statistic which I just mentioned applies to babies born in hospitals which is in the U.S 98%. However, if you look at babies born somewhere other than a hospital which would be 100% of babies in Jesus’ time, the largest number are born between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. which is at our latitudes a time when the world is dark. The impression that babies are born at night is, apparently, a tradition from an earlier era.
It seems that Jesus birth in darkness is in accord with our expectations. This seems right to us in other ways. John’s gospel describes the coming of the Christ as light shining into the darkness. This is why darkness is a necessary ingredient of the traditional Christmas pageant. A very long time ago I served a large multigenerational congregation in the far north where in December it gets dark around 5 p.m. We held Pageants on the Sunday before Christmas at 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11 p.m. The 4 p.m. service was for families with small children and older people who didn’t like to drive at night. We only did this once. Almost no one, not even the people who had asked for a service at this time actually came. “It wasn’t dark yet,” they said. Darkness is that backdrop for the appearance of the light. Our inner theologian insists on it.
Personally, I always imagine the angels stirring up the shepherds in the very early morning hours. I see them stumbling toward Bethlehem in the predawn twilight and I see them joyfully dancing away from the manger just as the sun is rising in the East. The dawn of God’s new era is beginning.
[Dawn over Jerusalem, graphic courtesy of pixbay.com]
A letter from our partners at Grace Network, Martinsville/Henry County
Resources for Helping those Suffering Food Insecurity
City of Martinsville-Healthy Food Hub
Food Insecurity in Henry County
Many Hands Giving Food in Henry County
PCUSA – Hunger action Congregations
Worship on Request
We are striving to create a worship environment that reminds us, as much as possible of the joy we feel when we can have church together. If you are on our mailing list, you received the order of service included in the newsletter which was emailed to you or, if you don't have email, sent to you by regular mail. We invite you to follow along in the service. You can say the prayer of confession with us, pray the Lord's Prayer together with us and affirm our mutual faith by saying the Apostles Creed. Where the internet fails to fully connect us, the Holy Spirit is able to bind us together.
If you are in contact with those who do not have internet access, a DVD of this service is available on request.
The Preacher this week is Elder Kym Wiederholt. Kym is our Clerk of Session and a Commissioned Pastor Candidate in the Presbytery of the Peaks. Kym preaches regularly at Presbyterian Churches in our area. She is married to John Wiederholt, our pastor.
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