A New Kind of Christmas for the Toones
This will be a different kind of Christmas for my family. For the first time—ever—we will not be celebrating Christmas in our family home. Cyndi and I sold it last spring and,a long with a lifetime of memories, we also left behind the venue that shaped every Christmas my kids ever knew. We won’t have a Christmas tree in front of the French doors in our granite room. We won’t hang our personalized, Nana-embroidered stockings over our fireplace. We won’t find those stockings stuffed on Christmas morning stuffed with goodies by Santa and sitting in our respective places: my ratty leather recliner, Cyndi’s Grandma’s pink wingback chair, and Rachel and Cooper’s in their respective corners of the couch. We won’t find our stockings there because my recliner is now in a landfill and the wingback and couch are in storage somewhere in Bremerton.
It will be a different Christmas, a little melancholy perhaps… but only a little. Because the most important elements will be the same. Our whole family will be together in our beautiful “Barn” loft. Sleeping arrangements will be a little cramped, but we will delight in being with the ones we love! We will find a new place for stockings, a new place for a smaller tree, and Dad will still cook Swedish pancakes on Christmas morning. Most importantly, we will be together in our Sweetheart Church, singing “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” as we have for every single Christmas Eve in our lives together.
There is no time of the year when ordinarily irreligious or spiritually indifferent people are more open to the story of Jesus than at Christmas. This Christmas Eve will be divided up a differently. Our two family services, complete with candles, carols and some crazy, kid-friendly surprises, will occur at 9:00 and 10:45 in the morning! Then, we will return at night for our three evening services: 6:00, 7:30 and 9:00—the last of which will include communion.
If ever you were going to screw up your courage to invite family members and friends to church, this is the moment. We will do everything we can to welcome them and the Holy Spirit will be at work, softening the hardest heart and opening the blindest eyes so as to see Jesus in a new way.
Please, do your part. Make the invitation! And if you would, give us an extra hour to serve at one of the services. We need your help.
Then, Christmas Day—on Sunday! How fun! Did you know that only 14% of churches in the United States will have church on Christmas Day?!!! What? How could we not? We will have one service at 10:00am. Come in your pajamas, kids bring your favorite gift and enjoy the most unplugged, guitar-led service since… well, since the last time we had Christmas on a Sunday. It will be great!
Merry Christmas to all of you, my dear Sweetheart Church. How I love being your pastor, how blessed I am by your faithfulness, and how excited I am for what God will do in this coming year!