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Tuesday Thoughts 12-18-18

Come with me to Christmas Eve.  I’m not talking about our church service on that day (though you are invited to share in that as well from 6 – 7 pm next Monday).  I’m inviting you to my childhood Christmas Eve.  It is not a holy, hushed, observance of the first lowly manger scene.  It is a sentimental, nostalgic, romanticized (and probably a little inaccurate) version of the night before Christmas.  It unfolds in front of a fake fireplace out of which a red glow issues (a light bulb behind red flame-shaped plastic).  Gathered around are four children, and on the outskirts are two parents and a grandmother. If you look closely, you’ll see a plate of holiday-shaped sugar cookies decorated in the thick and messy way of kids, accompanied by mugs of hot-chocolate complete with marshmallows.  If you listen in, you’ll hear ghost stories being told (blame Charles Dickens, I guess) and the laughter and silliness of sugar-charged siblings.  The wrapped packages are still under the tree but none of us are thinking about them.  Neither are there any thoughts of choirs of angels, frightened shepherds, or (gasp!) the baby Jesus.   The intangible that is powerfully present, however, is called well-being.  Though there is no awareness of these truths, we are safely housed, abundantly provided for and greatly loved. Death had not yet knocked on our family’s door to take my brother away, life’s responsibilities and pressures were far off into the future, and the complexities of human nature had’t had time reared their ugly heads—there was nothing to fear, all was well.  This is the mystery of the birth of Christ to which I return each year, reaching back past present reality, into that cocoon of unwitting, well-being summed up so succinctly by this decidedly Christmas scripture, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23 (NIV84).  God is with us!  God is with you!  When your world seems turned upside down, He is there.  When you feel all alone, He is there.  When we aren’t aware, He is with us!  Though we are called to be firmly rooted in truth, there is a right time to romanticize (how many times did Jesus say, “the kingdom is like…”, and then tell a great story?).  So, this year, I invite you to find that scene of well-being, that place of innocent unawareness (or borrow mine if you don’t have one) and go back to the simplest of Christmas Eve concepts – all is well!  Merry Christmas!

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