Here on the cusp of a week filled with beautiful Advent and Christmas services, I am mindful of a less familiar but fascinating descriptor the Apostle Paul gives to people who believe in Jesus Christ. In First Corinthians 4:1, Paul describes us as stewards of the mysteries of God.
We are caretakers of God’s secrets hidden in the universe from the explosion of stars light years away to the light of a single handheld candle bravely holding back the darkness. In a world of hatred and violence, we who bear the name Christian, are in the business of overseeing the things that make for justice and peace. Rather than vying for the top rung of earthly status, we trade in compassion, kindness and the kind of generosity found in giving ourselves away. In a culture that often misuses knowledge for power and control, we find meaning in holy wisdom, in service, and in peace that surpasses our understanding. We are stewards of the mysteries of God. I love that appellation as much as any other tagline of our faith.
No week of the church year leans into the depth and breadth of God’s mysteries quite like the week before us. Coming up on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Gospel of Matthew will lead us on that last leg of our journey to Bethlehem, and we will bask in the mystery of the incarnation of God in the birth of a baby.
Next Wednesday, December 21, at 7:00 p.m., we will observe the power of light shining in darkness. In keeping with ancient observances of the winter solstice, we will worship on the Longest Night by bringing to mind the grief, sadness and longing for peace that so many people experience at this time of year which is sometimes masked by good cheer. With contemplative readings and carols, this service is honest about the power of somber gloom, and yet moves toward the bright hope we have in the mysteries of God’s promises.
On Christmas Eve at 4:30 p.m. we will host our Nativity Tableau in the Sanctuary for the first time in three years, a joyful return to a treasured tradition and beautiful reminder that the baby born in Bethlehem grew up to say the best way to enter the Kingdom of God is to become like a little child. The evening service of Lessons and Carols at 7:30 p.m. will help our spirits soar with the angelic heavenly host, and our hearts fill with wonderment as Mary pondered the miracle of Jesus’ birth so long ago.
On Christmas Day we will have one service at 10:00 a.m. filled with the joy of the Good News proclaimed in worship and carols and singing.
Each of these worship experiences takes us into the sphere of God’s mysteries where earth and heaven meet, where God is revealed in person, and where we are encouraged for the highest calling of our lives – to be stewards of the mysteries of God, the very calling that fuels our faith and discipleship.