Unbelievably, I rarely touched my computer between Christmas Eve and today. With all the family together like we were for the holidays I had other priorities. But today it's back to work!
First, Christmas Eve's worship gathering was phenomenal. This was our 17th consecutive year for doing this, and every year it grows. Nate did a great job putting it all together, and the MP13 Band and our NHC Worship Choir are both top notch when it comes to leading us in worship. Instead of a the usual Christmas sermon we used a series of short videos we got from BluefishTV that I recommend highly for advent. There were 5 of them that told the story from the Old Testament prophecies through the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. In between each video clip the Band and choir led us in a Christmas song. The link above will allow you to view them.
One of the results of being a growing church was that we almost ran out of communion elements. Gotta pick up another tray or two! We were set up seating-wise for 185 ("with so many people out of town...") but had about 225 in the service. So, thanks to Mike and his team for scrambling (again) to get more chairs set up. Thanks, too, to the children's ministry and nursery teams for providing child care. The little ones had a birthday party for Jesus. Guests were there from as far away as Australia and Canada.
Sunday was a breather for me. Not having to preach allowed me to relax and enjoy Christmas a little more with so many of our family in town. So, a special thanks to our missionary to Honduras, Larry Benson for taking the lead Sunday and bringing a great message on our "missional" God and what that means. I took lots of notes and he had my brain working overtime.
The 9AM gathering was really sparcely populated! It's the one most of our local congregation attends. But I knew that meant 11:00 would be slammed, which it was. Even though it was after Christmas we still enjoyed some Christmas music, too. Next Sunday we'll put up some round tables in the auditorium again, which is a luxury we can afford in the winter months. We tried it last year and the tables became hugely popular, giving attenders a place to spread out their notes, Bibles and coffee!
It's hard to believe another year has come and gone. For so many reasons 2008 was the best year ever for our church. More was accomplished for ministry and missions and by more people being involved than we've ever experienced. The church continues to grow in health and strength. 2009 will, no doubt, pose some new challenges with the economy, etc. So we will get to see God work even more as we learn to trust in Him.