The week leading up to Christmas was a little different for me this year. Christmas fell on a Saturday. That meant that we would be at church on Friday night for our Christmas Eve gathering. The previous year we had to move our Christmas Eve service outdoors at the last minute. Without being dramatic, it was one of the worst Christmas Eve services I’ve been too. It was cold, windy, and tough. But God showed up.
So as we planned for this one I was thrilled to be inside. I was looking forward to candle lighting. I was excited about some special elements our team had been working on.
As we neared Christmas Eve something blindsided me… something I hadn’t planned for. Someone in our family tested positive for COVID the day before Christmas Eve. I went through a variety of emotions. See for the last twenty years I’ve celebrated Christmas Eve at a church. I’ve sung with hundreds of people. I’ve been in awe at the miraculous birth of Jesus. Then I would go home and be with my family.
This year was different. I preached on Thursday and watched Christmas Eve at home, with my family. But I did learn five lessons I want to share with you.
1. It’s all about Jesus.
When I first saw the positive test I was so bummed. I started to think about all that I would miss on Christmas Eve. It didn’t hit me until I was worshipping at my home. Christmas Eve is all about Jesus. I know we say that all the time, but do we really believe it? I mean really?
We focus on the presets.
We focus on Santa.
We focus on the parties.
Christmas Eve is a time to sing to Jesus. it’s a time to reflect on the miracle of God coming to earth. It’s a time to sit in wonder with the Scriptures.
2. Make sure to develop leaders
One of my life verses has been Ephesians 4:11-12. Let me sum it up for you. Paul tells the church that the role of the leaders is to develop others. We are called, in Scripture, to build up other leaders. Sitting on my couch was a reminder that I’m not always going to be leading a church. It’s a reminder that I need to follow the command of Scripture and invest my life into others.
The fun part, that is what I want to do. Watching from my house gave me the reminder to double down on that passion of mine. I loved seeing our team leading on Christmas Eve. They did a fantastic job!
3. God is working online
When I connected with our staff team it was obvious that I was bummed. Our Director of Operations could tell I was sad. She offered that I could host online. I jumped at the invitation. As I was chatting with people, posting moments, and reading comments it hit me again: God is working online.
One comment I hear almost every Sunday at Coastline, from new guests, is: “We’ve been watching online for X number of weeks.” Not only that, on Christmas Eve we had two people online indicate a decision to follow Jesus. That makes me so excited!
4. I work with an amazing team of people
This might be repetitive but I really do work with some amazing people. It’s fun to have a staff that we love working with. In fact that has been most of my time in ministry. When I shared with our staff and elders the news of our home, everyone stepped up. People jumped in and took on extra duties. Our team really stepped up to help.
In addition to that, and probably more important, people prayed for us. It’s comforting knowing that other people are praying for the health of my family.
5. Feed people on Christmas Eve
This might seem random, but you have to feed your volunteers! You did something new at Coastline and fed our people. We took a room that was unused and are transforming it into a green room. Not so leaders or the band don’t have to talk to people but so we can have a place to bless those who show up three hours earlier than anyone else.
Now this was super cool. We had a young lady prepare a couple charcuterie boards for our people. I wasn’t sure how it would all work out but it was a hit. I got a few texts about how great it was for people. Never underestimate the power of food and blessing people!
Was Christmas Eve how I planned? Nope
Was it a win for the Kingdom? Yep!
This year was one I will never forget. And I might not have another one like this for another twenty years so I’m going to make sure to cherish the time God is giving me with my family right now. And I’m going to write a little about it so I don’t forget this.