There is just soooo much going on!  Yesterday our staff celebrated Christmas with our preschool children and their families at their Christmas party.  This was followed by caroling to our community and our granddaughter’s Christmas program.  Tonight, a day late, we celebrate our eldest son’s birthday.  Friday brings the first snowstorm of the year.  Then comes Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  The day after is our family Christmas gathering, followed by helping a sister congregation call a new pastor, discussing baptism with an out-of-town family, preparing for another weekend, the last Thursday’s Thirst … of the year, New Year’s Eve worship (at noon this year), New Year’s Day worship, a quick trip up north to be with family and get a little rest … and then we are into the final six weeks leading up to February 19.
In this stretch there is also the drive by our Detroit Lions to make the playoffs … the Wolverines playing in a semifinal bowl game for the national championship … and the Red Wings in their traditional New Year’s Eve game.
Another way to say “there is just soooo much going on” is to say “we are just soooooo blessed!”  Each one of the items listed above are blessings from the God who comes to earth to bless us on Christmas.  He wants us to enjoy life, and all the blessings he bestows, but I think it is important for us to recognize that this enjoyment is enhanced multiple times as we acknowledge the source from whom all these blessings flow.  What is his goal in all of this?  That “the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)
Thus, on Christmas Eve we pray: ”Almighty God, you made this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light.  Help us to truly celebrate his coming to save us and guide us to walk in the light of Jesus’ presence all our days, until we wake to the brightness of his glory in eternity.”
This is easy for us all, right?  Well, let me tell you of a few other things taking place.  At yesterday’s Christmas party I met a young mom whose brother was murdered last month.  At her table was another young mother whose own mom had very recently passed.  This past Monday I helped bury a mother of two who was born the same year as the son whose birthday we are celebrating.  In the snowstorm I will be with another grieving family.  And I still mourn with a family who tragically lost a son the day after Christmas a few years back.  And then there are the 80 families who received Christmas dinner the previous weekend, and … and …  Yet, in all the this stands “the God of hope working to fill all with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Sprit they may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)
Thus, on Christmas Eve we further pray: “Lord Jesus as we behold you in the fullness of your grace and truth, we commend to you all who are in any need, all who struggle through this night in which we take such delight, all who live in loneliness or fear, and all who have not acknowledged you as Savior and King.”
What will the new year bring?  The Detroit Lions winning one or more playoff games?  I think they have a chance.  A national championship for the Wolverines?  One never knows.  Retirement?  Such is the plan for me!  Challenges … changes … dilemmas and decisions … “wars and rumors of wars … nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom … famines and earthquakes in various places … many falling away (from the Christians faith) … betrayals and hatred … many false prophets arising and leading many astray … the love of many growing cold” (Matthew 24.6-12) – of this all we can be sure … for we are living in a sin-contaminated, fallen world.
Yet, in the midst of all of this the blessings of Christmas will still abound … sent from heaven above to earth “to bring good news to everyone!  Glad tidings of great joy (Christ) brings to all the world” for which we sing. (LW 37)  And in that hymn we further pray: “Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child, prepare a bed, soft, undefiled, a quiet chamber set apart for you to dwell within my heart.”  This is the peace – the underlying blessing – that Christmas is all about.
Thus, one more prayer, and the closing Christmas blessing:  “Blessed are you, Lord of heaven and earth, for you have had mercy on us and all humanity.  In the Word made flesh you have brought peace to earth, for which we offer glory to you in the highest heaven.  Whoever believes in the Savior born this day shall not perish but have eternal life.  We give you thanks for the redemption you have prepared for us through Christ Jesus.  Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts that he may establish in us a living faith and prepare us joyfully to remember our Redeemer, Savior, and Lord.”
And finally, “May the God of hope fill you (this holiday season and always) with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)

Holiday Blessings