22 December 2021  |

Christmas falls on a Saturday this year, which no doubt will have many Sabbath keeping congregations making it a high day. (I know of pockets of Sabbath keepers who forbid any mention or celebration of Christmas in their official liturgies…but we will not mention them further.)  

It likely will be a day for carols, bells and maybe even a tree decorated with mission offerings. Perhaps there will be a live nativity from the school children or the primary and junior classes. There could be parents taking pictures of their little ones in their simple costumes. “Look.  Our Jalinda is such a beautiful Mary!” Perhaps the Pastor will even squeeze in a homily about some aspect of the events of the birth of Jesus. And finally, “Silent Night” as a closing song, with the congregation holding hands around the outside of the church interior.  

At least that is the way it has often worked in my growing up and ministry years. One year I got to be Gabriel, speaking into a mic off stage.  Good times. Isn’t Christmas beautiful! Yes, it is a beautiful season – tinsel, glitter, red bows and fruit cake. And the birth of Jesus fills us with awe, wonder and praise. God becomes a man.  

However, there are some aspects of the Scriptural stories that are not so beautiful. This week we’ll review the Christmas story from John, Matthew, and Luke, highlighting some of the agonizing aspects of the advent we often ignore or miss, having thought about that event as being “tender and mild” and “calm” and “bright” for so long.

We will consider the departure of “The Word” from the heavenly courts, the reluctance of Joseph, the burden of taxes, the no vacancy signs of Bethlehem, the holy family of refugees and the wails of weeping parents…just to name a few. It was a Frightful Christmas for them…so it could be a Merry Christmas for us.

In spending a “thoughtful hour” in this contemplation, the earthly beginning of Jesus’ life is not lessened…but magnified. It is the hope that you will love the Savior more after this week’s time together.

Please take the time to read Matthew 1 and 2, Luke 1 and 2, and John 1 as you prepare to join us this week.

—Kris Widmer


Chaplain O. Kris Widmer (MDiv) has been an ordained minister in the Seventh-day Adventist church for 32 years. After he served as a pastor, God called him to be the sole chaplain of a 250-bed community hospital in Oroville, California. He enjoys looking at scripture with fresh perspectives, preaching dramatic narrative sermons in the first person, writing poetry and doing art. He is married to Debbie, with whom he has two adult daughters. 


How to join:

One-click link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87296541692
Passcode: The only one of the four gospels that tells the story of the magi, or wise men, in the Christmas story. SEVEN LETTERS, ALL CAPS.


ATSS starting time depends on where you are. If you’re on the west coast of the United States, it’ll be 10:30 AM. On the east coast, 1:30 PM.

Times around the world:

    • Reykjavík: 5:30 PM
    • College Place: 10:30 AM
    • Lincoln: 12:30 PM
    • Denver: 11:30 AM
    • Bracknell: 6:30 PM
    • Loma Linda: 10:30 AM
    • Nairobi: 8:30 PM
    • Gackle: 12:30 PM
    • Hosur: 11:00 PM
    • Waco: 12:30 PM
    • Tulsa: 12:30 PM
    • Helsinki: 8:30 PM
    • Stockholm: 7:30 PM
    • Hamburg: 7:30 PM
    • Cape Town: 7:30 PM
    • Madrid: 7:30 PM
    • Paris: 7:30 PM
    • Honolulu: 7:30 AM
    • Cooranbong: 5:30 AM (Sunday)
    • Perth: 2:30 AM (Sunday)

The class is intended to last about 2 hours, though the conversation often continues to 4 PM.

About our class:

  • The AT Sabbath Seminar is intended to be a courteous forum. We discuss and ask questions politely. We don’t accuse, get angry, or put people down.
  • Stick to the topic in both comments and chat discussion.
  • Make your comments and questions short—don’t dominate.
  • Keep your microphones muted unless you are called upon to make your comment or ask your question.
  • Indicate your interest in speaking by raising your electronic hand—under the “reactions” button.
  • Please use your name when you sign in! Not your phone number, not your initials. This will help us differentiate you from unwelcome guests who want to disrupt us. You can set your name after signing on by clicking on the 3 dots next to your picture, which drops down a menu.
  • If it should happen that we are attacked so that we have to stop the meeting, we’ll quickly post a new meeting link on our AT Facebook page.

We look forward to getting acquainted with you!

Coming up:

  • January 1: David Geelan on endings and beginnings
  • January 8: Christie Chow
  • January 15: Reinder Bruinsma
  • January 22: Reinder Bruinsma

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