Refraining Good Friday at Christmastime

IMG_2673Christmas Eve worship is always a favorite of mine: carol singing, decorations, “lessons” from the scriptural Christmas stories, nativities, children hardly able to sit still for the coming Christmas, and, of course, candles filling the worship space with light. All of these elements of worship in this annual service are special to me: both as a minister who has a leadership role in them, and as a follower of Jesus whose name is proclaimed on this special night.

This year, however, one particular part of the Christmas Eve service stood out to me: communion.

The Eucharist, while an important part of the bedrock of the Christian faith, is not always a favored celebration at Christmas time. Who, after all, wants to think of blood, sadness and dying during the season where we sing of decking the halls, joy coming to the world, and beautiful silent nights?

Yet, as I served the elements with a fellow minister this Christmas Eve, my mind kept going back to the undercurrent of it all. As people filed past our station, the refrain of Good Friday, mixed with the beloved community of the Church, accented the season of Christmas for me:

Children in pajamas, whose eyes shine with the joy of new faith as I bend down so they can reach the cup:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

Parents whose smiles shine with joy but who’s faces exude the weariness of preparation:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

Those whose faces I know well:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

and, the strangers whose faces are unknown to me:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

The married couple who each take the bread, dip it in the cup, and wait so they could serve one another:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

The few with eyes obviously holding back tears at the memory of those no longer here:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

A fellow minister whose robe represents the clear calling of God on her life:

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

The table of Christ brings us together from wherever we’ve been and reminds us of the reality that we do not travel the road of life alone. It reminds us that the Christmas story is one of “good news for all people.” For this reason, though it may seem out of place in such a bright and joy-filled place, it belongs just as much as the carols and the wreaths.

Yes, while it may seem odd to find Good Friday’s refrain at the foot of the manager of the baby Jesus, I believe, one cannot truly find the promise of Christmas without it. You see, communion at Christmas, unlike any other time of the year, gives us a humbled God in infant form and a powerful promise of life never-ending.

May we realize, this Christmas season, the beauty of the table that unites us, the promise of the baby in a manger, and the fullness of the light that drives out darkness.

The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Christ poured out for you.

Joy to the world, indeed.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply