Christmas Eve will soon be here and on this holiest of nights on the Christian calendar, millions of people will attend church to welcome the arrival of God on Earth. Many of them will not return until Easter Sunday to worship the Risen Christ.
One of the most memorable Christmas Eve meditations I ever heard was delivered to a huge crowd of worshippers many of whom were not regulars. Some call them “Chreasters" because they only attend church on Christmas Eve and Easter.
Facing such a crowd on Christmas Eve, the pastor could have used the moment to preach a grand inspirational sermon that may have motivated some people to return in the weeks that followed.
Instead, the pastor waded in with an unforgettable message that was, in essence, a reprimand of the Chreasters present.
The sermon that night was about the wise men who came to worship Jesus after his birth and brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their journey was long and arduous, but they were determined to find and honor the Messiah.
"And then," said the pastor, "They were never heard from again." As I recall he paused to let those words sink in, and as people squirmed in their pews, some were undoubtedly thinking, "Is he talking to me?" and clearly the answer was, "Yes."
I’ll never know the result of the pastor’s message that Christmas Eve, but I am certain that many people who came that night to be uplifted went away feeling they were scolded. But the pastor knew in his heart it was message that needed to be shared . . . just as I believe it should be repeated here.