Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
This is a season that lends itself to reminiscing. There are so many memories embedded in the music, customs, food, and festivities of Christmas. Together we will remember the journey of Mary and Joseph as they traveled under the stars from the Judean Hills to the little town of Bethlehem. We will recall the wonder of the shepherds as they are visited by angels, the desert journey of the Wisemen, and a teenage mother who “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
This is a season that lends itself to reminiscing. I can remember visiting the Christmas tree lot with my mother as we attempted to find the perfect tree. I am quite certain that my father never got involved in Christmas tree shopping. I remember the year that my mother had our Christmas tree flocked purple. I am quite certain that my father never understood this.
Christmas was a special time in my family. The children took part in Christmas Pageants at little Trinity Lutheran Church… we shopped on the decorated streets of downtown DeKalb… we threw snowballs at cars… and we had our yearly encounter with Lutefisk: the piece of cod which passes all understanding.
But Christmas belonged to my Grandma Elliott. In many ways she was my best friend — we had a common enemy after all. She was a tiny stick of dynamite who walked with a noticeable limp. My brother and I were with her the day she broke her leg. He ran for help, and I stayed with Grandma.
That Christmas Eve scene at my grandmother’s is among the most vivid of my childhood. The Christmas tree adorned with tinsel and lights was placed in front of a large picture window. That window looked out on a snow-covered Illinois landscape. Wrapped packages were piled high, a nativity set was close by, fondue pots filled with boiling oil and creamy cheese, oyster stew and plates of sweet delights. The celebration would not be complete without the reading of the Christmas story, a Christmas carol or two, and plenteous laughter as toxic clouds of cigarette smoke filled the room.
Every Christmas Eve the family gathered, a more dysfunctional family than I realized as a child. Vikings don’t show a lot of emotion, but they carry axes. Norman Rockwell never showed up at Grandma’s house.
They are all gone now: grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles too, the family homestead gave way to an apartment building, the cousins and some of the siblings are no longer talking to each other. The story is neither good nor bad, it is just a story — a human story.
Perhaps no story in history has been more romanticized than the Christmas story. How romantic to be young, poor, away from home for the holidays, giving birth in a stable, facing an uncertain future, soon to be refugees fleeing to the land of Egypt. How lovely to raise a baby boy who will never really belong to you, a boy who will become a man, spend way too much time with tax collectors, and die as a criminal on a Roman cross. How is that for a Christmas card?
Take time to reminisce this Christmas, take time to make memories, the customs, carols, food and festivities are there to help you. Take time to thank God for human stories and for the gift of celebrating Christmas at TLC.
My love to you!
And don’t forget to wear that Christmas sweater this Sunday!