“Joy to the world”, it is getting to be that time. As the body of Christ, we are preparing our hearts and homes to receive the good news that Jesus Christ is born. Most of us will admit that we can’t wait. So many things to do to be prepared for the celebration.
In my youth Christmas was so exciting. It is hard to remember what I looked forward to most of all. Was it the presents? In some aspects, yes, but we never received what I would say were large amounts of gifts. Even today, I so enjoy the keep it simple aspect of Christmas. I have told our children that I would rather see them give the grandkids more or simply spend it on themselves.
No, I think the big thing was all the comings and goings. There were the family gatherings that meant spending time with the cousins. Most of whom we got along with quite well and really looked forward to spending time with. Christmas Eve for many years was spent with Grandma and Grandpa on the farm. I recall many nights long after the festivities were over and we piled into the car for the ride home back to Galesburg. The crunch of snow under the tires, the foggy windows inside the car, the starry night which seemed at once both colder and brighter than normal and under my watchful eyes as I tried to catch a glimpse of Santa and his sleigh absolutely huge. It seemed as if the night sky had no limits on this night of nights. As we arrived back in Galesburg, Main Street was quieter, only a few cars were on the road and NO stores were still open. Most of the homes were dark as dad turned the car onto the street leading us home. Was it just my imagination or did the snowman we made earlier in the day have a bigger smile on his face then when we left just hours earlier? It must of have been the dim street lights that made it seem that way or was it because it was Christmas?
There was the rush from car to bed with no hesitation since tomorrow morning meant unwrapping the hoped-for gift we had written Santa about ions ago. We just knew that he had gotten our request.
Our tree was beautiful, wrapped by a red and green paper chain my brother, sisters and I made by cutting huge numbers of paper cut into strips and hand colored with red and green crayons. Our hands becoming numb to the endless task before us. Silver tinsel seemed to drape over every branch and because I was the oldest, most years I was given the precious opportunity to place on the tree the plastic globe with the manger scene nestled on a blanket of cotton. That globe still graces our tree so many, many years later. I am still a kid again every time I look at it. Lights of red, green, blue, and white that you didn’t dare touch because they were so hot and when you squinted your eyes they seemed to have grown in numbers. On top of our tree was a beautiful lighted angel. The only thing that seemed unusual about her was the brown spot on her wings left there from the plastic becoming too hot from the white Christmas light stuck to her backside.
You know I could go on and on about my special memories of Christmas. My hope is that you will take an opportunity to reflect upon your special memories of this most special of days.
I have been given so many gifts over the years. Some I still remember. Some, I best not share; well, okay, you talked me into sharing one. My mom’s parents would hang our stockings by the fireplace. These were our first gifts to open on Christmas Eve. They were filled with fruit, nuts, candy, and gum. I had a habit of taking the gum and quickly unwrapping all the pieces and chewing them all at once. I accomplished this beforeall the other gifts were passed out. Here was this little boy with a wad of gum bulging in his cheek, trying to chew and talk and swallow the juice of the gum all at once. I always got a chuckle from my grandparents and THE look from my mother that told me if the gum didn’t get stuck in my throat, I was as good as dead somewhere along the ride home. I am still glad today that she got over those moments rather quickly.
This year as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ I thought I would let you know of the great gift I have already received. I and Chris are so blessed to be serving among all of you. You are all a tr ue blessing to us. From our first days among you, you have made us feel right at home. We enjoy doing ministry together with all of you. We know that best is yet to come for Colona UMC because God is continuing to do a new thing in us and through us to make a lasting impact on our community and the world.
I am looking forward to what 2018 has in store. My prayer is that you are ready for the ride. With God leading the way, it will be a great journey.
My prayer is that as you and your families gather this Christmas that Jesus Christ will be the precious of gifts that resides in your heart. May the greatest joy be with you and me this Christmas.
Grace and Peace