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From our Pastor

What is your greatest Christmas memory? I have several. I remember the one year Christmas came early. My brother had enlisted in the navy and was leaving for boot camp a week before Christmas. He was not particularly happy about missing Christmas so my Mom said we would just have it early. He wasn’t sure it could be done and my Mom said, “Watch me!” With that she and my brother went to town to do all the Christmas shopping from buying the tree to buying all the presents—and remember that was for a family of eight and even though a couple of my brothers were already ‘out of the house’ that still made for a few gifts to be found. So, we had Christmas that year about two weeks early and although I am not sure my brother would agree with me, I thought it was a great time.

I remember the Christmas before Sandy and I were married. It was the first Christmas we spent with both families and it was also the first Christmas in eighteen years all my brothers and sister (plus their kids) would be together for Christmas. It was an interesting year because Sandy was one of two children for her parents and I was one of eight. Plus, at that point Sandy’s brother and sister-in-law didn’t have their son yet and at that point I had I think about ten or twelve nieces and nephews. It was an interesting time going from my families celebration with all the hub bub of kids playing, crying, running around and wrapping paper flying through the air as everyone tore into the gifts with glee. And then going to Sandy’s family with just the six adults methodically taking turns opening gifts one at time giving everyone time to ooh and ah at each gift in turn. It really like having the best of both worlds as we enjoyed the excitement and havoc of the Evans Christmas and then were able to embrace the calmness of the McCulloch celebration.

I also remember a Christmas Eve celebration in Colorado where the church service was a basic re-enactment of the Christmas story right down to the live animals and taking place in a barn. We even had an angel come down from the rafters to tell the shepherds of Christ’s birth. It was great!

These have been blessed and cherish memories for me as I think back on Christmas past. However, I recognize that they all must pale in comparison to the experience of the shepherds when the angel chorus sang out about the glory of God and peace for all people.  And yet that is still apart of my memory as well. No, I wasn’t there but it a shared communal memory we recall each year that reignites the hope, love, peace and joy this season brings. There are years when it may not be as joyous as others but it still reminds us that when all else seemed overwhelming, God broke through to offer the most glorious, the best gift of all.

That memory that we continually return to year after year is one that has and can continue to stop the cynicism in it tracks. During World War II there is a story of how the two opposing sides stop the fighting over the Christmas holidays to give everyone a chance to remember again the story of Christ’s birth. One of the space flights to the moon was over the Christmas holiday and the astronauts retold the story from their vantage point of the earth from the moon that struck a chord with all people in the world during a time of civil and economic unrest in our nation and worldwide. That one event over two thousand years ago still gives us pause and we have to admit that we are not the same world because of it. Perhaps we may want to work a little harder at living out the promise that one birth of that one small child brought to us all.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Paul

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