Are they holidays or holy days?
My daughter and I started a tradition as soon as she was old enough to understand it. Every night we'd gather at the Advent wreath and light the candle. I would read the scripture, and then I would sing to her (eventually she sang too!) a little song that I had found in an illustrated book of hers: The Friendly Beasts. It was simple, repetitive, and profound. As we grew older, we added this and that to our little tradition. But we NEVER missed lighting the candles and praying together.
How do you pause to see the miracle? How do you make this holiday a holy day?What is your most memorable Christmas ever? Tonight I attended our Women's Group's Christmas Party. We each shared our most memorable Christmas.
The Christmas that is etched in my memory forever happened when I was in 6th or 7th grade. My father was an IRS agent in the collections division. He was the one that padlocked businesses when they couldn't pay. He dealt with many different types of people in his work. A few weeks before Christmas he happened to call on a poor family in rural NC. The oldest daughter was washing dishes in some of the dirtiest water he'd ever seen. He asked her why she didn't poor it out and get some clean water. She replied, "The only soap we have is in that water." My dad came home that night and tearfully recounted the story of his day. He talked to my sister and me about how blessed we were to have a nice house, clothes and food to eat. He told us what the Bible said about giving, and how Jesus called us to do as he did. He gave his life away, just because he loved us. He gave us a choice, but he told us he was taking all of his gifts and our Christmas dinner out to those poor people. We all agreed to give up our Christmas for that family. My dad didn't stop there. He visited local businesses and they donated toys, food, clothing, and, of course, dish detergent! The local Belk store manager opened the store early one day so the family could all come in undisturbed and find coats, shoes and socks, undergarments and one outfit of their choosing. My dad's men's group at church and Belks shared the cost.
But what I remember most is picking out a doll for one of the girls. It was in the local drugstore. I had been looking at that doll for weeks, but I was too old for that sort of thing. When they told me to pick out the perfect dolly, I knew right where to go and I asked the pharmacist myself if we could have for our Christmas family. He gave the doll to me, and a stroller for it!
Then came Christmas Day. We got up, loaded everything in the car, and took our Christmas to complete strangers, just because they needed it. To this day, I believe God sent my dad to that house, not because of their taxes, but because he wanted to work a miracle in our lives.
You see, giving away Christmas changed me. It showed me one of the deepest truths of my faith: love of God and love of neighbor. Ever since, my holiday has been a holy day. I give through my church - my time, my money, my family. Yet, even though it's my busiest season, and there's so much to coordinate, it's also my happiest time. Because I expect to see a miracle, and God always come through. It may be in a Christmas card from friends, or a visit from a loved one, or sitting in a living room with our Women's Group sharing about which Christmas memory means the most to us. And the greatest miracle of all - Christ comes into my heart! He interrupts my everyday and calls me to share in his ministry and blesses me in a way only the King of Kings and Lord of Lords can do!
Expect a miracle, live your call, share in the birth, and count the blessings! Happy Holydays!
• Reach the Rev. Caren Bigelow Morgan, pastor of Waxhaw United Methodist Church, at 704-843-3931