Tag Archives: Christmas

The End of Christmas

IMG_20140114_130204_816The Christmas tree has been mocking me as I pass it daily in the living room, even starting to give off a strong evergreen smell in recent days, which seems weird.  Anyway, it’s my day off, and so we took some time over lunch to start the job of putting away ornaments and lights – we’ll finish another day – which is akin to taking a band-aid off slowly.

Josh missed it – no doubt a result of his evil plan to get back to college before he had to do his part.  Chip off the old block, I guess.  One year Diane did it all on her own.  That wasn’t good. Christmas tree untrimming should be a team sport.

And the task wasn’t so bad, I suppose.  I got some wood together this morning and the fireplace was going strong.  Diane actually read to us as we worked.  The girls are home-schooled and she reads to them most every lunch.  Yes, even juniors in high school like someone reading to them.  Maybe even 49 year olds like that.

Before the job started, I was returning a faulty gift at Walgreens and ran into a friend who said she appreciated our family Christmas traditions, which I guess I have mentioned in a sermon sometime…like the family slumber party around the Christmas tree one night each season.  Yeah, well, we didn’t check that one off or a number of others this year.  Blame it on the new college kid, or Diane’s relatively new job at the library, or the girls in basketball for the first time, or 1,001 other things.  Busy, I guess.  But we did cut down the tree together and enjoy a family trimming party.

Putting up the Christmas tree with eggnog and Bing Crosby crooning is tradition.  Taking it down is work…joy in reverse.

The kids all have their own ornaments that we (well, I guess Diane actually) has picked out for them through the years.   I was tasked with putting Josh’s away.  Humpty-dumpty was a gift around age 2 and he has been missing a leg for years, which seems somewhat fitting, but the appendage showed up under the tree today in a post-Christmas miracle.  Apparently you can put Humpty together again.

That was the good news.

IMG_20140114_141458_546On the bad news front, there was the obligatory breakage.  Astro the wonder dog fell to his death on our hard wood floors.  There was brief mourning – Diane had grown up with the pup on her family Christmas tree.  So she looked him up on eBay to consider a replacement.   Someone had just sold the same Astro ornament for $75.  Guess that’s not gonna happen.  Diane wondered if she wanted Astro back for the memories…or the cash?

This is the hardest time of the year, when the light is brief and the darkness, long.  Christmas is packed away.  Bleak midwinter stretches ahead.  Traditions are replaced by work.

But with hope I remember the days are getting longer.  Before too long, Punxsutawney Phil will be prophesying the end of winter.  And the joy of Christmas?  Well, by my count, it’s only 344 days away.

Maybe we should leave the tree up this year.  It does smell nice.


Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

I Love to Tell the Story

Monday evening and I’m still glowing from Sunday morning.  An Easter Lilly sits before me in our living room; the pungent aroma has become a part of my post Easter high.  What a glorious Resurrection weekend it was.  I absolutely love Easter.  Love it.  Christmas too.  For all the obvious reasons…and maybe a couple more.   

Christmas means Immanuel and Easter means resurrection, good enough reasons to walk around all day with a smile on your face, but these holidays have taken on additional significance as I have enjoyed them and reflected through the years.

Our average attendance at Edgewood is somewhere around 800 including our Fond du Lac campus; on Easter, that number for the past two years has soared to around 1400. I think this percentage bump in attendance is common at many churches in not-quite-yet-post-Christian America…and I for one delight in it. 

There is a caricature of a pastor and congregation who see the hoards of people coming in the doors on Christmas Eve and Easter and react with anger at the “invaders” of their holy space. Strange…I suppose there might be some pastor and people out there who feel this way, but for us at Edgewood, the hoards of unfamiliar faces streaming into our church on these high holidays fill us with delight: we know they will soon hear a message that under Holy Ghost power will transform their eternity.

In the 1980’s at the University of Illinois, we Navigator college students would occasionally gather on Saturday afternoons to pray, and then go out two by two to look for people with whom we might share the “bridge illustration”: two cliffs, man on one side, God on the other, a chasm of sin, and a bridge made of a cross.  Scary afternoons, these were, but good and glorious also – we had a powerful message and we wanted to proclaim it.  We just needed to find willing ears, which sometimes wasn’t so easy: “Say, we were wondering if you have 5 minutes (this was technically true if they didn’t ask questions) to see an illustration that shows the main message of the Bible?”

Many times there were eternal results to these Saturday afternoon efforts.  I myself had been the beneficiary of such a “cold” contact at West Point.  So was Diane at UW Eau Claire.  But for those who went out two by two, it was hard…and scary…easy to wish you were back in the dorm room studying for Monday’s Accounting exam.

But ministering in the local church, it’s all different now: at Easter (and Christmas), they come streaming to us. Oh, sure, many are not asking for a life-changing message, rather a wee bit of yearly tradition to correspond with their Easter egg gathering and brunching and bonnet-wearing.  But we’ve been entrusted with the gospel, and we make good on this trust every year – we sing loudly of the “Happy Day, when Jesus washed our sins away.”  We delight that “Christ the Lord is risen today!”  And no longer am I begging strangers for 5 minutes – the multitudes happily seem to give me a full 30 to tell them the old, old story…the message of salvation from God’s own holy word.

I can’t wait for Christmas Eve.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: