It's December 24, and Tulsa is anticipating a white Christmas. I can't tell you how glad I am about this. Luanne and I decided it's been at least 13 years since we (Luanne, Josh and I) had snow on Christmas Day. Jacob and the twins have never experienced snow on Christmas.
Who could have guessed our first Christmas in Oklahoma would be a white one?
We had a great time last night at Rhema Bible Church (home of Kenneth Hagin's ministry). Their light display is the best I've ever seen. Really beautiful. (That's where we took the picture. Crazy kids didn't exactly dress for the cold and were freezing.)
Sunday was a magnificent celebration of the birth of Jesus as Redeemer had our annual Christmas Cantata. Our theme was "A Service of Lessons and Carols," based on an order of worship created on Christmas Eve 1880 by Edward White Benson (who was to go on to become Archbishop of Canterbury). The service was revived on Christmas Eve, 1918, at King's College, Cambridge. It has been an annual tradition since then, with people flocking to the live performance and thousands more tuning in to the live BBC radio broadcast. (Listen here.)
The Service of Lessons and Carols is simply this: Nine scripture "lessons," or readings, starting with the Fall in Genesis 3, going up through the prophets' predictions of the Messiah, and ending with the Christmas story and the first part of John 1. It's beautiful to walk through the whole Story in one worship gathering. And we added in some awesome music with orchestra, rhythm section, soloists (Luanne Nightingale, Ronda Bender, Lindsey Fullerton) and adult and children's choirs... I loved it. (I posted some pictures here.)
Tonight (Weather permitting... It's really starting to howl out there...) we will celebrate with three Christmas Eve gatherings. At 5:00, we will have a Children/Family service featuring music and drama... At 7:00 & 11:00, it will be a little bit more subdued... a traditional "Carols & Candlelight" service with the choir. At these services, our three "clergy couples" will be sharing Christmas memories, some good and some painful, based on lines in Christmas carols.
Joe & Margie Scruggs will be sharing based on "The Hopes and Fears of All the Years..." They will talk about the painful Christmas after they lost their son Wade in a car accident. I'm praying for this to be powerful and that God will hold them close as they share such a vulnerable thing.
Mike & Martha King will be sharing based on "O Come, All Ye Faithful" about how God brought them together from two different cultures and two very different observances of Christmas.
Luanne and I chose an appropriate title: "I Wonder As I Wander." Anyone who knows our journey over the past several years understands the significance of this song... But the point is not our wanderings, but the faithfulness of Jesus throughout all of it.
Man, do we miss our family and friends right now. It's not the same without you. But we are so full of gratitude for a new life in Tulsa, a new home, new ministry, new friends. God is good.
It's been a busy season for me. It's hard to quiet my heart and rest right now. But in the midst of it all, my prayer is that we experience the presence of God... Jesus came to us at Christmas, Emmanuel - GOD WITH US. And in the Holy Spirit, God is with us still.