Our Christmas tree is a hodgepodge of ornaments that Jack and I have collected over the years, resulting in a not so glamorous or elegant tree but rather a tree covered in love that reflects us. The favorite ornament that we look forward to hanging up every year is the Hallmark ornament of Linus of “Peanuts” fame where he shares the true meaning of Christmas from the infamous A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Throughout the season, it is not uncommon for me to walk by the tree and hit the little button on the decoration to hear sweet Linus recite the beloved scripture in his childlike voice beginning with “Lights, please.”
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Of course, Linus then concludes his recitation with “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
(I bet that when you begin reading the above lines, you changed your voice to sound like Linus, didn’t you? Wink, wink.)
My hope for you this season is that before the busyness of the holidays overwhelms you, before you get wrapped up in the beauty of the festive lights, the pretty packages, and the glittery decorations, before the festivities and cheer seduce you, and before you start wishing the holidays to be over, take some quiet time and let the true meaning of this Christmas seep into your very being.
Become childlike, excited beyond your imagination; let go of whatever fears you have and most important of all experience “the good news with great joy” and just as Mary does in Luke 2:19, “ponder” what this miraculous gift means to you. How will you share this gift with others here at First Church and beyond?
I hope you will carry those thoughts and feelings with you into 2018.
This is also a perfect time to say thank you for your generous support of First Church’s ministries and programs! My holiday wish for each of you is that the spirit of the season brings you PEACE, the gladness of the season gives you HOPE, the warmth of the season fills you with JOY, and that it be a Christ-filled holiday season for you and your family.