Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas in the Barn

Photo by Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
It wasn’t a typical venue for a worship service. There were no pews, no altar, and no piano or organ. There was no carpet, no heat, and no incense.

But there were ducks quietly quacking to one another, goats jumping onto stumps, donkeys munching on oats, and a pig chomping down on a pumpkin. There were hay bales stacked in the corner, straw strewn over the floor, and lots of dust and dirt. The smells of manure and stored feed and animals mingled in a not entirely unappealing odor. Kind of like the first Christmas must have been.

Photo by Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
We were gathered inside the coach barn at The Lands at Hillside Farms. Bundled against the chilly evening air, kids and adults meandered around to get a glimpse of a variety of farm animals in their stalls, as we waited for the guitarists to tune up and the pastors to signal the start of the service. Such a unique location had been chosen for a reason — to bring home the realities surrounding Jesus’ birth, and to help people stop and consider the true meaning of Christmas.

While most of us stood, some sat against hay bales. Others had brought lawn chairs and some improvised seating on overturned buckets. Expectations and anticipations ran high—and we weren’t disappointed.

Photo by Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
The short messages, carefully chosen special music, animal story for the children, and the familiar carols all blended with the rustic surroundings to speak to our hearts. It wasn’t just into a messy, dark, and dirty stall that Jesus was born. It was into our messy, dark and sin-stained lives that He came to offer us forgiveness and salvation. He came not to reach to our lowest level, but beneath it, to lift us up, to purify our hearts, and ready us to come to Him.

Communion concluded the service, reminding us that the gift God gave us that first Christmas came with a price—a price that He was willing to pay because He loves us.

Photo by Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
Unusual? Yes, and yet, such a natural place to worship the One born to save! What’s the most unique setting in which you’ve experienced the true meaning of Christmas?


 ©2015 Pamela D. Williams

P.S. If you are ever in the Wilkes Barre, PA area be sure to stop at The Lands at Hillside Farms and see for yourself what a great mission this is! Look for me in The Mercantile!