Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
This time of the year evokes memories. Many are from my own childhood. Most of them are positive, thankfully. My childhood memories of Christmas are probably pretty American typical, i.e. decorated tree, presents with pretty wrapping paper, extended family gathering around a beautifully appointed dining table complete with kids’ table, and church services including the children’s program.
Brenda and I had three children in 42 months. There is a five-year period in our life that is a blur of nursing babies, diapers, spilt milk, middle of the night crying jags, all balanced by those serendipitous moments of baby grins and “I wuv you.” I give all the credit to Brenda. She is an amazing mother. During this season of the year, I would be busy as the pastor trying to be something for everyone, all the while Brenda was making sure every family tradition from both families was being honored. (My Orthodox Ukrainian bride can make lefse with the best of them.) Now that our children have gone oﬀ and started their own Christmas traditions, our memories are all the more life-giving.
What strikes me the most curious, though, is the “Why?” Why are some moments burned in our memory and other events simply lost? For example, how many of us remember a Christmas gift we received when we were ten? Sixty-two years ago, I received a jewelry box. What in the heck does a ten-year-old boy do with a jewelry box? It was given by a loving, childless couple who looked on my sister and I as their “adopted children.” I still have it. It sits on my dresser and as soon as I am done writing this blog, I am going to go see what’s in it… I don’t wear jewelry. Why do I still keep something that I do not use and don’t even have an idea what’s in it? I guess because it keeps me connected to a part of my story. Seems kind of silly, but I trust it makes some kind of sense to you.
I have another Christmas memory from my childhood. Notwithstanding that the stable manger scene is highly romanticized, and was undoubtedly little more than a cave, as a child I received a Christmas card that seemingly shaped my life. Picture a moonlit night and the baby Jesus lying on hay in the manger. The rafters of the stable make a shadow in the shape of a cross, perfectly superimposed over the sleeping child. I don’t doubt this could be a world-famous painting of which I am unaware, but for me as a child it was stunning. I made the connection; Jesus was born to die a redemptive death. Later I learned my life was to be about telling that story. A jewelry box and a Christmas card. Nothing of value except the memories they evoke that have shaped my life.
Every year we get to tell the Christmas story. Every year we are reminded of God’s love for us. So profound that love, that God put on flesh to dwell among us, and then to suﬀer and die as the ultimate expression of that love. How did Jesus describe that love? “No greater love has one than to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. God, in the flesh of Jesus, has called us friend. We are the object of God’s love aﬀair. We are God’s friends and throughout each of our lives there have been these holy transformative moments that are a part of our story. A jewelry box, a Christmas card… nothing big. Just God being stealth among us, reminding us how loved we are.
In a lot of ways this has been a crappy, crappy year, but “This is the year the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” At least let us rejoice in the story of God’s love manifest in Christmas, and let us be glad in the memory of God’s faithfulness to us throughout our journey. Amen? Amen!