Live In Both Worlds

Hi friends!  Happy New Year!  I hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas celebration.  I am posting (albeit very delayed) my sermon from Christmas Eve.  Probably not super relevant at the moment considering we’ve all moved past Christmas (although my tree is still up #waitingforepiphany #actuallyjustdontfeelliketakingitdown), BUT I do think the concept of living in both worlds is super applicable to our faith throughout the year, not just on Christmas.



Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
December 24, 2017

Live In Both Worlds {A Christmas Eve Sermon}

When I asked the Church School parents if they had any ideas for this year’s Christmas pageant, I had no idea that we not only end up with an adorably creative pageant for the early service, but that I would also be inspired for my Christmas Eve sermon, as well.

Arsenio Uhrig called me and said, “It’ll be like the Polar Express.”

He had my attention.

The train would be traveling to Bethlehem, watching the Christmas story play out through the train windows. To keep it simple, the kids who wanted speaking roles would play the parts of the train conductors, who were narrating the story and the kids who did want speaking roles would be the animals, angels, shepherds, etc.

I was quickly writing down notes as I was talking to Arsenio so when I got off the phone I could start writing the script. But then he said something that caused me to pause.

“And then the wise men will get on the train and it will take them to Bethlehem.”

Okay, I thought to myself. I am not entirely sure how that will work, but let me start writing and I will figure it out.

So I started writing; and, as I always do when I am writing the Christmas pageant, I was having a blast. It is so fun to think of new and fun ways to tell this story. But when I got to the part where the wise men hop off their camels and jump aboard the train, I was confused.

What time period am I writing this in, I asked myself? Our time or Jesus’ time? If the wise men get on the train, then we break through some sort of time barrier and exist in both worlds, right?

Or is that whole point of celebrating Christmas every year?

I realized as I was writing this pageant, that part of the magic of Christmas and the grace that is given to us every time we hear this story is that we can enact it in our world today. We may be remembering events that happened 2,000 years ago, but we can gain inspiration from them in our lives. We can still hold onto the hope that God is going to break forth into our world and use us, redeem us and inspire us.

The first Christmas may have happened 2,000 years ago, but the heart of the Christmas message – that God enters the brokenness of our lives, that God calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things, that God’s redemption is not a one-time thing and that God’s light always shines – well that is still very much happening today.

So tonight, as we hear this familiar story and sing the familiar carols, I invite you to live in both worlds.

As we hear the call of Mary to give birth to the Christ child, may we think about the ways God is calling us into ministry. And when Mary says, “Yes!” may we, too, say, “Yes!” to God.

As we sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, may we think about the journeys that we are on and how God is guiding them and where they are taking us. We may not know exactly what the future has in store for us, but this story assures us that God will guide us to where we need to be.

When we remember the part of the story where there is no room anywhere for Mary and Joseph to stay, may we remember the hospitality of the innkeeper and our own responsibility to welcome people into our own midst, whether they be family, friends, strangers or enemies.

As the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven!” may we ask ourselves, how are we proclaiming the Good News that God is here today? How are we telling others about our faith and about our church that, I believe, is changing lives?

As the shepherds gather their animals and head to Bethlehem to see the Christ child for themselves, may we ponder the ways that we leave the comfort of the routines of our lives and follow Christ.

As the wise men follow the star to Bethlehem and offer their gifts to Jesus, may we think about how we offer our own gifts to God. How do we give back – of our time, of our energy and of our money?

When we hear that familiar passage from the Gospel of John – “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God … and the word became flesh and lived among us” – may we open our eyes to the ways that the word is still being made flesh among us. How is scripture coming alive today?

As we light our candles and sing, Silent Night, may we feel the still and calm presence of God granting us peace, courage and hope for the new year.

As we remember the words of the Prophet Isaiah – “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light!” – may we look for God’s light in the darkness and may we take that light and let it shine for all the world to see.

And as we enter into the service of Lessons & Carols and hear the story of the angels and then notice that the bulletin is inviting us to sing, Hark the Harold – H-A-R-O-L-D, not H-E-R-A-L-D – Angels Sing, may we remember that Jesus was born into an imperfect world, one where there are sometimes typos in the Christmas Eve bulletin.

Isn’t it amazing how this Christmas story so beautifully fits together with the pieces of our lives today?

So friends, tonight I invite you to hear this story and put yourself right into it. But do not take yourself out of this world! Live in both worlds! Live in your life today as you travel with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.

And be amazed; be amazed at the ways in which this story still carries so much meaning, so much inspiration and so much grace in our world today.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thanks be to God!

Preaching in Pumps Podcast Artwork

Music On Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I’m enjoying some time with my family in CT, but I wanted to share some of the beautiful music we had at RCC on Christmas Eve.

We hired a girl lives in the area last year on Christmas Eve and everyone enjoyed her singing so much that we asked her to come back this year!

She sang Ave Maria as an introit …

… and then O Holy Night later on during the service.

THEN my husband tried to surprise me … but blew the surprise three days before Christmas Eve. :)

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I was still surprised!  I was just surprised three days early … :)

Don’t they sound amazing? I love them!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and was able to enjoy some well-deserved sabbath time afterwards.  Merry Christmas, friends!

Hope In The Empty Manger

Merry Christmas, my friends!  I’m sitting in my office listening to our soloist for the 11 pm service warm up in the sanctuary and I am just FILLED with joy!  It wasn’t the easiest of years, but I look back and can see so many ways that God has been active and alive and working in the life.  It’s amazing.

Here is my 11 pm homily.  I’m guessing I’ll want to go to sleep as soon as this service is over. :)


Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
December 24, 2012

Hope In The Empty Manger

We come to church, we celebrate Advent, we cry out for Emmanuel and we try to center ourselves throughout the entire holiday season on the true meaning of Christmas.

And yet sometimes the system breaks down.

I had to go to the grocery store yesterday.

Here’s something you should know about me: I don’t like the grocery store. In fact, I have always felt that one of the advantages of being a pastor is the fact that Monday is my day off and I can go to the grocery store when everyone is at work and the store is empty.

So I am sure you can all imagine my sheer delight when I found myself at the grocery store two days before Christmas.

But, list in hand, I assured myself that it was going to be alright. I started on one end of the store and swiftly – if I do say so myself – worked my way to the other end, checking things off along the way. I smiled at people I walked past and waited patiently when aisles were crowded. As I walked up to cash register, I thought to myself, “Wow, that was easier than I thought!”

I should have known better.

I pulled my cart into one of the self-checkouts and watched a mom and her two children checking out their groceries. Slightly amused by how adorable her little boy was on his tiptoes trying to scan each item slowwwwwwwwly when he wasn’t tall enough to see the scanner, I chuckled to myself and then went to grab my phone to text Bruce. I couldn’t wait to tell him how proud I was of myself for not melting down at the grocery store.

My phone wasn’t in my purse.

Let the meltdown commence.

I should probably also mention that I have a slight – um – connection to my phone. As in – I like it to be within a three foot radius of it at all times.

(Now, in fairness to me, my phone IS my lifeline for work, but that’s just besides the point right now.)

My entire swift and happy journey through the grocery store suddenly started flashing through my head. Did I put it down when I was picking out broccoli? It must have been when I was grabbing eggs. Oh, wait! It was those dang shrimp! I must have put the phone down when I went into the cooler to look at the shrimp! Are you kidding me? I didn’t even BUY the shrimp! I just wanted to see how you are supposed to cook them!

I tried to reign myself in. Sarah, perhaps you didn’t even bring your phone in the store with you, I tried to tell myself. But I remember seeing a text from Bruce IN the store, the irrational side was taking over. Did I see that in Target or Stop & Shop? Ugh, I need to check out so I can go check my car to see if the phone is in there.

Suddenly the little boy who was slowwwwwwwly scanning each item was not nearly as adorable as he had been three minutes before.

By the time I stepped up to start scanning my items, I had worked out an entire scenario in my head where clearly I had left my phone by the shrimp, someone had stolen it, no one would be able to get in touch with me with questions about the Christmas pageant the next day and I would have to go to AT&T before I go to church to replace it and – oh yeah – WHY IS THIS HAPPENING THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE??

So, yeah – the phone was in my car.

Like I said … We come to church, we celebrate Advent, we cry out for Emmanuel and we try to center ourselves throughout the entire holiday season on the true meaning of Christmas.

And yet sometimes the system breaks down.

Sometimes it is all too easy to lose sight of what is really important.

In 2006, New Line Cinema released the movie, The Nativity Story, a drama that tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.

Going into the theater, I was curious as to how the creators of the movie were going to handle certain parts of the Christmas story, specifically the part where Mary and Joseph and Jesus had fled to Egypt to escape King Herod, who had ordered all of the children two years and younger in and around Bethlehem to be killed.

We don’t like to talk about this part of the story and yet it would have seemed wrong to ignore it completely. It is, after all, part of our history; part of what shaped us to be the faith and church that we are today.

The movie actually started with this scene; a scene of violence, terror and pain.

But then it flashed back two years to Mary learning that she was pregnant and then journeying with Joseph to Bethlehem, eventually giving birth to Jesus. It told a story of perseverance, strength and courage. And at the end of the movie – instead of reshowing the horror of what King Herod did – the movie ended with a scene of the empty manger, because Mary and Joseph and Jesus had fled to safety.

What a miracle that empty manger was.

Christmas is not about stuff – it isn’t about the gifts that we give to people, the gifts we receive from people, the busyness of the season or even the stuff that we have the surrounds us every day that we think is important.

Like iPhones.

(Not that I am projecting my own issues onto this sermon or anything.)

Christmas is not about stuff. It is about that empty manger. Because that empty manger reminds us that even in the midst of violence, terror and pain, there is hope.

There is hope in our God who creates us, redeems us and sustains us. There is hope in our God who sent his son, born of human flesh, to live in our midst, to share in our suffering and to overcome death with resurrection. There is hope the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the scriptures that shape our thinking and in the God that is still speaking in our lives today. There is hope in our God who shares in our sadness over the violence and the hatred in our country right now. And there is hope in our God who calls us to rise above, to carry his light into the world and to be instruments of hope, peace, joy and love. There is hope in our God who illuminates our journeys so that our stories can also be ones of perseverance, strength and courage.

We live in a world that is often full of hatred and violence, but we also live in a world that God has not given up on.

As you dive head first into your Christmas celebrations, I urge to take a moment and give thanks for the way that God was active and working during that first Christmas, not simply through the birth of Jesus, but also through that empty manger. Because that empty manger symbolized a promise; a promise of safety, a promise of peace, a promise of redemption and a promise of hope for the future.

Even in a crazy and imperfect world.

There is hope for this world, I truly believe that.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Thanks be to God!