Christmas memories are often precious to us. One of my memories is the family gathering to decorate the tree. It was a live tree decorated just a week or so before Christmas Day. It was the only part of the preparations that all five of us did together. We had metal reflectors to put behind the 7 watt bulbs to lower the risk of fire, the tinsel which our mother insisted was to be put on a single strand at a time, the old glass ornaments to be handled with great care and the homemade felt ornaments made by grandma T that survived being dropped.
As time passed, the traditions changed. It was no longer 5 gathering to decorate and before I knew it I was on my own decorating my own tree. I had fiascos of trees that wanted to fall and the cat climbing to “help” me string beads. Yet every year as I hang the ornaments I remember where each one came from and the people whose lives have been so much a part of mine. When it’s all put together I just sit and find myself smiling as I watch the lights reflect off those pieces of memories.
As much as these memories tell my story, the heart of it all is always the love of God shown to us in Jesus becoming a human being. Jesus became so much easier to understand when I was young when I thought of him as a baby crying just like any other baby. The more I read the story of that first Christmas and what it means to all of us, the more I understand how deep is God’s love and how much my life is shaped by that love. The story never grows old whether I read it myself, or hear someone else read it, or even watch Linus read it on “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It is the story of God. It’s our story as well. When Jesus came to live among us he taught us how to love God and one another. He brought us all into God’s family for he came to save all people.
That love is the source of our hope, our trust, our mercy, our joy. Without it I would look at the world’s craziness and the awful things people do and feel nothing can change. With my knowledge of God’s love I know things can change, can be redeemed, and can be transformed. It is the power of love that we celebrate each Christmas. May you feel it anew this year.
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)