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You are here to welcome me.

When I was two or three years old, I was given the part of welcoming the congregation to the Christmas Eve service. The first thing on the program was to have the class of little ones dressed in their Christmas finest line up on the stage to say their lines. I imagine the strategy was to have the fidgety toddlers finish their parts and be sent back to their parents. I had a loud voice, which may have been the reason I was first.


A few weeks prior to Christmas the slips of papers with each child’s lines were sent home for practicing. My line was, “I am here to welcome you.” My Mom asked me to repeat after her.

Mom: “I am here to welcome you.”

Me: “You are here to welcome me.”

Mom: “No. I am here to welcome you.”

Me: “You are here to welcome me.”


My Mom is a smart person. After a few failed efforts, she decided on a new strategy.

Mom: “You are here to welcome me.”

Me: “I am here to welcome you.”


That is how we practiced, until I could say my line without Mom’s reverse prompt. She would ask me for my part. I would say, “I am here to welcome you.”


I was set for Christmas Eve. Prior to the service, Mom talked to the teacher. Mom was fairly confident I would say my part, but just in case, she told the teacher how she taught me my line, so the teacher would know to use the reverse prompt.


The big moment arrived. The teacher lined up her class of little children. She crouched on the floor in front of us. She pointed to me to begin. I froze. At that moment, trying to control her group of toddlers, she forgot my Mom’s counsel. She whispered to me, “I am here to welcome you.” I loudly proclaimed to the audience, “You are here to welcome me!”


There was plenty of laughter. For everyone but my parents, the service was off to a great start.


Now as we approach Christmas 2023, I am again wondering who should welcome who. I am the new pastor at CPC, so in last week’s video, Pastor Laura asked you to welcome me. However, Pastor Mike asked me to write this “Dearly Beloved,” so I extend a warm CPC Christmas Welcome. I invite you to come to one of the Christmas Eve service times and experience the joy of Christ’s coming. It will be great to join with others in worshipping Jesus. Maybe it’s okay if we welcome each other.


More importantly, do we welcome Jesus? Or does Jesus welcome us? Jesus came into our world. When the shepherds heard the angels’ announcement, they hurried to welcome Jesus. The Wisemen traveled far and gave costly gifts to welcome Jesus, the King, into the world. May our response to Christmas be to welcome Jesus into our world and into our hearts.


However, it is also true that Jesus came to welcome us. It is, after all, His world. Jesus may have come as an infant, but He came as He did to welcome us to God. John’s Gospel says, “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” In other words, Jesus says to you and me, “I am here to welcome you. I welcome you to become God’s children.”


Please join CPC on Christmas Eve. I am confident you will be warmly welcomed. More importantly, receive Jesus’ welcome of you, and welcome Jesus into your heart.

Pastor Lorne Willms