Rev. Dr. Kristen Burkhart, Associate Pastor or Discipleship
Hebrews 1:1-12. But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,[a] whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains[b] all things by his powerful word.
A Christmas tradition in our family, no matter what was going on, was to set up the Nativity. Only in rare cases were we unable to, due to moving or a tragedy in our family. The family Nativity scene is packed separately so that we can access it easily and set it up. When I was growing up, the set was a gift given to my parents and painted by my paternal grandmother. The pieces were brightly painted and done with such care and respect of creation, each was individual and irreplaceable. I loved unwrapping them and seeing them again each year. When I grew older, I wondered how I would be able to have my own Nativity scene. At my first church following my graduation from college, I was gifted a Nativity set, not hand painted but given with great love. It has become the tradition of our family and every year we add another piece to the scene. This year we bought a bagpipe player. Yes, I know there was not a bagpipe playing in the Nativity, but it goes with the city section. We selected this character for my grandfather whom I am missing a lot this year and for Phillip’s uncle who recently past. Both of them were strong, loving men and they both had bagpipe players at their graveside services. Joanna helps me unpack it every year no matter what, and, like the original, it is packed separately so that we always find it easily.
In this Scripture from Hebrews, we hear the story or what is described as a sermon to the Hebrews and it starts with the reference to the Son, Jesus. My favorite name to use at Christmas for the Christ Child is Emmanuel, which means God with us. Hebrews gives us the vision of Emmanuel, God with us, God’s imprint of his being, God’s glory as Jesus born in a manger, God with us. May we this Christmas seek to recognize once again that God is with us. In the hard and tragic times, in the difficult years, and the good years, may we seek to follow and be guided by God’s word. May we unpack God’s glory and love for us through his son. I am thankful for the Nativity we unpack yearly to remind us that God remains with us. He sent his son, Emmanuel, to be with us as the exact imprint of himself. God so loved us that he sent his son, the greatest gift of all. As my family adds another piece each year to our nativity set, may we yearly give God praise and glory by adding our thanks and praise and helping others to come to the manger.
Gracious Lord, it has been a difficult year and we have lost a lot, and we grieve. But you preach to us and teach us to praise you and seek Emmanuel because you have not forsaken or abandoned us, you are with us. Thank you for the gift of your Son. May we unpack that gift again this year and feel your presence. As we go through another Advent season and approach a new year, help us see your glory and remain guided and sustained by your powerful word for we know you are with us. Amen.