Stepping Stones for THE Journey
As a church family we have journeyed the path of Advent and Christmas is almost here! We have adorned our house of worship, we have worshiped through music, we have celebrated our children and their leaders as they performed, we have prayed, wondered, and hoped. The gift of God coming to us is amazing.
As we continue the journey toward Christmas day this coming Sunday we will light the final candle of Advent, the candle of love. In anticipation, I think back to Jesus’ invitation: “… Love one another just as I have loved you!” (John 13:34). Love is the basis of our faith. The love of God revealed in Jesus can transform you, me, and our world. Sometimes the invitation and encouragement to this new life comes quietly, tenderly. To encourage your journey, I share an anonymous story called: “The ‘W’ in Christmas.”
Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.
Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly finding seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Clause, snowflakes, and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
Nicholas was aglow as were all of his classmates who were adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row – center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter “C.” Then, “H is for Happy, “and so it went until all the children were holding up letters that spelled out: “Christmas Love.”
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her. A small, quiet girl in the front row who was holding the letter “M” upside down … which of course looked like a “W.” The audience of mostly 1st through 6th graders began snickering and a few children pointed. The little girl had no idea they were attempting to make fun of her so she simply stood taller, chest out, proudly holding her “W.”
Although the teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In one instant, when the last letter was held high, the message of God’s intent was clearly spelled out: “CHRIST WAS LOVE.”
Thank you God and Merry Christmas Southern Hills Christian Church!