Manger scene: boxed.
Ornaments: packed (those that survived two tree falls!).
Various other decorations: garaged.
It always amazes me how quickly the Christmas decorations are put away, when I compare to how labor-intensive they are to set up. At the church, I am always thankful for those who volunteer their time to help in this effort, particularly the putting away—there’s no anticipated excitement in putting away, since it’s way too early to start thinking about Christmas 2010 (although thanks to a recent Twilight Zone episode I have a head start on my Christmas Eve sermon!). At home, my duties are limited to putting the lights on the tree. One of our family traditions, inherited from my father, is the annual Dad complaining about Christmas tree lighting. It’s a joy-filled time for all, particularly Christy. After a couple of hours and lots of moaning, the tree is lighted, and I get to supervise the boys and Christy hanging ornaments. My job is to point out “holes” that need to be filled. I am particularly good at this task.
But that was sooo late November. Now it’s early January, and after working at the church last Saturday morning I came home to find our tree unceremoniously dumped on our doorstep, waiting to be delivered to the tree recycling place. Everything was stacked in boxes, ready to be stored in the garage. Yep, Christmas was over for another year. The only reminders are a couple of forgotten decorations that need to be put away, and the new toys, puzzles, books, and other gifts the boys received. Are there lessons we can cling to from Christmas 2009 that will help us going forward? Here are a couple:
- Weather happens. This was the first “white Christmas” in the Dallas area in 86 years. And wow, was it white! Walking home from the 5:00 Christmas Eve service the wind and snow blew from every direction. Reports of cancelled services all over North Texas were on the news. Seeing unusually low numbers at our 8:00 and 11:00 services, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to worship in the first place, how special it is to be together on such a holy night.
- Even at Christmas, evil is still real. An idiot tries to blow up an airplane, a sick attempt to glorify God through the suffering of others. Our faith teaches us to be bold in the face of fear and death; still, there are real dangers out there. Remember, Jesus himself was born under threat of murder (Matthew 2). I was reminded to be grateful to live in peace, and to be mindful of those who live under constant threat of violence.
I am sure all of us learned something new this Christmas. Maybe that’s one thing that makes Christmas special: as much as it is familiar, same Bible stories, favorite movies, family traditions (grumpy Christmas light hangers of the world, unite!), there is usually something new. Somehow God uses the “old, old story” of Christmas to give us a new perspective on our current story. While everything else is put away, that message we can keep out and share with others.
Wishing you God’s peace and joy in 2010 and beyond!
P.S. Another tradition: the 3rd annual Epiphany Party at the parsonage, this Sunday, 2:00-4:00 p.m. (come and go). Dessert will be served. Christy, the boys, and I would love to see you there!