Merry 5th Day of Christmas and Blessings on your New year!
~Pastor Leta Behrens
Christmas Day 2011
Ah… it’s Christmas morning. I feel like we can all take a collective sigh of relief because the moment we have been preparing and waiting for has arrived. We were having out annual Christmas Even fried chicken lunch yesterday and we talked about our favorite parts of Christmas. Seeing lights at Woodward governor and making desserts were at the top of the list and as I’m sure you can imagine so was opening presents—a favorite that each child at our table was sure to get in. I said that I love singing Silent Night and holding the candles. And I do. But I also love Christmas morning—not only is it delightful to see all that anticipation come to pass and to see eyes light up with the fun of what of the morning brings but I love it because it is the moment that all the promises that have been proclaimed come to rest in a space and time in a moment that is set apart—apart from the chaos of what it took to get to the moment, a part from the inner turmoil of our hearts, a part from the very world for just a moment. All that was prepared for has come to be…
It is a moment that opens up hearts and minds to reflect… on what we are grateful for perhaps, on the gifts of our lives that can be held, that are tangible and on those gifts that are so easy to claim or touch. It reminds me of a favorite series of books that my children enjoy this time of year called Auntie Claus—without spoiling anything I’m sure you can guess that she is related to Santa—his sister. Auntie Claus has a niece and nephew, Sophie and Chris Kringle who learn slowly about the secret of their family. In the third book Chris is having some doubts about the whole Christmas spirit thing and he says that he won’t believe anything until he sees it, because seeing is believing. Auntie Claus’ response is , “Ah but believing is seeing and all the best gifts are invisible.” Through a series of events Chris comes to see that this is true and he that he has found the “key to Christmas.”
Christmas day brings these truths together. The truth of seeing and believing and believing and seeing. Because the Christmas story is about both. A God that we often, too often, think of as invisible and our God who came to be and to dwell—to be seen and touched and held—with humans on earth. Jesus arrives to walk with us under the very stars and with the creation that he made as God. It is the gift of Christmas, the coming of God to be with us and to leave the Holy Spirit with us that holds together the very gifts of God that surround us each day.
This advent and Christmas I have been keeping prayers as a vigil from a afar with a colleague from seminary named Laura. Laura was diagnosed this fall with a rare form of cancer. She has been keeping us updated on her health through a website where she posts everything from her chemo experiences to her deep heart experiences. What she writes if often so beautiful in the way she describes her journey.
Leading up to Christmas she has written about an image of tethering—not the tethering that happens in the game Tether ball where one is likely to get hit in the face or knocked over! But the kind of tethering that comes from those deep connections that are possible with one another and with God. She describes this tethering in many ways, one being her feelings as her family takes vigil by her dying grandfather’s side a few days ago while she cannot be there because of her illness. She writes:
I sit in the recliner, looking at the Christmas tree that bears two Christmas garland strands....1x1x1/4 inch red, green and gold foil wrapped presents, on a garland strand of long and short gold beads. It hung on Grandma and Grandpa’s Christmas trees for as long as they had trees. It has hung on ours for the years since. This morning it looks to me like it holds the whole tree together...every other ornament possible because of that garland that came before it.
Truly though, the garland, the tree, and the gifts collecting around it are only significant because of the One gift that came before us all…
I am tethered to my grandpa... He is surrounded by my Dad and Mom, by my Uncle and Aunt and his pastors all through this day....this precious day. He and I are attached, you see, by some sweet life-long-loving-connection. The wonderful thing is that I get to stay tethered, whether in this life or the next. Whether alive in this life or not, we are both "in Christ". We are both in God's spacious and intimate embrace, one cannot get closer than that.
This is God. This is Christmas.
God come to earth as one of us—Emmanuel.
To tether us to the seen and the unseen.
To tether us to a baby born as savior and to heaven above.
To tether us to God and creation and to one another like garland on a Christmas tree.
As you hold this moment of Christmas morning, in this time where all that was prepared for has come, may you know that always in this journey of life you are tethered to a God who made the stars and the sky and you and me. We are given a key, a gift… a sweet life-long-loving connection that tethers us all together in the grace, mercy, truth, and love of Christ.
Merry Christmas. God is with you!