This Sunday is my last ugly sweater wearing sermon for a long, long time. If you’ve been around Central Church this advent season, then you know I’ve been wearing an ugly sweater to illustrate the Ugly Side of Christmas. Now I know why I don’t preach in sweaters (ugly or otherwise), I get a little too warm. My options moving forward are either lose the sweater or lose the style in which I preach. If it’s OK with you, I’ll lose the sweater.
On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, we will be about as far removed from the Ugly Side of Christmas as one could possibly get. As we gather in the sanctuary with 1600 to 1800 of our closest friends, holding a candle and singing Silent Night, it will be an easy reminder of the beautiful side of Christmas. I’ve been telling people Central Church’s Christmas Eve Service is the most beautiful Christmas Eve service is town and our most beautiful service of the year. It’s true!
When Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem, there was plenty of ugly all around. The busy town’s people unaware of what was happening in stable nearby, the sights and smells of a barnyard birth and soon Herod’s genocidal efforts—nothing would indicate that the world as we had known it was forever changing. God had come. He made his dwelling among us. Angels lit up the sky with majestic announcements, but (except for a few shepherds) nearly everyone missed the world’s most beautiful night.
There is plenty of ugliness in our world too. Watch the news out of Washington, Hong Kong, North Korea, the Middle East, along our southern border or so many other troubled places and you’ll see the ugliness and filled with despair. You might not have to look that far away. It may be that your world has been less than beautiful lately. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a lot to completely mess up the beauty of God’s hopes for you and your family.
That’s why our Christmas Eve Service is so important for you, your friends and family! Don’t miss it. In the glow of the candlelight, you will be able to remember that God has an answer to our world’s ugliness. There is hope! His answer is Jesus. As we gather Tuesday night, remembering the world’s original most beautiful night, we will also proclaim that no matter how ugly the world might seem, God steps in and makes “beauty from ashes” like he did on that silent night so long ago.
I love our Christmas Eve service. Please plan on coming. Bring the whole family. Invite everyone you know. Use social media. Text your friends. Tell your neighbors. Invite the cashiers, mail carriers and folks standing behind you in line. The neighbor’s dog (Ok you don’t need to invite the neighbor’s dog. Sorry Fido). But everyone else. You will be glad you invited them and you’ll be glad to be a part of the most beautiful Christmas this year!