Christmas Letter 2016

I went out for a walk last night through the neighborhood… to look at the lights. The red, green, white, and multi-colored lights along with displays and decorations created a scene of brilliance and beauty announcing that “Christmas will soon be here!” 

There were lights of all kinds… some new hi-tech “LED” starburst-in-motion lights, some hanging down like icicles, some old-fashioned bulbs… some were fresh out of the box, others were easily on their twentieth Christmas.  There were yard displays with Santa and his sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer with Rudolph in the lead.  There were Angels lit up like the host of heaven and a life-sized crèche scene with the Shepherds and the Wise Men and Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus lying in a manger.  There was even a shining giant snow-globe of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Woodstock flying through the snow on a toboggan.

I liked the shining snow-globe.  It invited me to remember Christmas time back in Minnesota as a kid, riding the sled down the hill that ran from out beside the Hiawatha Golf Course Clubhouse down to the 18

th green… and on a day when the snow was right, you would get airborne, flying over the sand-trap on your sled and if you flew far enough you would land with an explosion of snow on the other side. (It also brought to mind the time me and Diana and the boys went to visit my mom when the boys were young and I rode my old sled down the 50th

street hill all the way down to Minnehaha Creek and came crashing to a face-first landing on the ice… but I’d rather not think about that…)  That’s what all these wonderful Christmas lights, displays and decorations do… They invite us to remember. I recently read a copy a Grown-up letter to Santa written almost 40 years ago by a man named Kenneth David Thomasson, who was an electrician and a supply sergeant in the U.S. Army. One of the things he asks for in the letter is… Christmas lights.

Colored lights on a Christmas tree–that was a big favorite of mine, but I buy those in the store. But they never shine as brightly or look so colorful as they did so long ago. There was a wonder in them then, but perhaps it might have been the angle of sight. I was looking up at them in those days, and now I look straight at them.  Maybe that’s why they’re smaller and duller, while the stars always stay the same. Please bring me brighter lights like you used to, or tell me the proper angle from which to view the lights I have.”

And that’s the trick… isn’t it.  Finding the proper angle from which to view the lights we have.  The Shepherds found it, the Wise Men found it, and Mary and Joseph found it, and we can find it too all over again at Christmas.  What they found was that the only way to truly see the Light of the World shining right where we are is to kneel beside the manger, and then look…          with our eyes and our hearts and our minds and our arms and our lives… wide open.

Grace and Peace and Merry Christmas!

Pastor Mark