Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas in a Small Town

Stafford Christmas 2015 - Intersection of Main and Broadway, the "main drag"
With its millions of lights and perfectly-crafted displays, a trip to Botanica is like entering a fairy wonderland of Christmas finery. All the parts and pieces fit together like a symphony orchestra building up to a crescendo. I loved it (as evidenced by the photos I shared earlier this week).

But there is beauty in simplicity, too. Too often, I get distracted by the hubbub and the "noise." The thing that is "squeaking" the loudest captures my attention first. That to-do list with items still not crossed off seems to scream the loudest right now.
Stafford may not have thousands of visitors clamoring to see synchronized light displays. But there is beauty nonetheless. And isn't that the meaning of Christmas? Christ didn't come to Earth in amazing 3D technicolor.

Mary was a young, unwed mother. She had her first baby - not in a well-appointed delivery room - but in a stable with animals all around. She laid Him in a manger filled with straw, not a crib with sheets that matched a nursery theme. It wasn't all that pretty.
How can we, in the midst of our culture's conspicuous consumption and demand for perfection, turn our focus on the Child who was born into poverty as a sign of hope and salvation for a broken world? While it may seem the world demands perfection, the Gospel message demands nothing from us. Rather, God invites us to gather around the manger just as we are: unfinished lists, burnt pies and all. No matter our imperfections, great or small, God invites us to peek into the manger and gaze at the real Christmas message: That Christ came for us all to be a beacon of hope for the hopeless and to bring peace.
Rev. Amy Slater, 
Stafford UMC newsletter, Christmas 2012

When I went to choir practice last week, the Christmas tree in the church foyer was like a beacon in the darkness.
 Through the multi-paned door, I also caught a glimpse of the cross hanging at the front of the church.
Inside, in the dark foyer, it looked perfectly appointed. But I remembered the little hands that hung the ornaments only a few weeks ago at our annual Hanging of the Greens. Without a little creative rearranging by adults, there might have been a "blizzard" of snowflakes on the lower branches of the tree. They guided the helping hands to other parts of the tree. The cooperation and guidance lit a dark night.

O God, prompt me to shine a light on Christ’s coming through my words and actions.
So maybe not every single treat will get made. Perhaps the dusting won't stand the "white glove test." And it will still be OK. It will be better than OK ... 
... especially if I sit in the living room with my glasses off. It's the only time that being really nearsighted is a benefit.

Maybe I should be nearsighted in another way, too. Rather than looking at the big picture, I should remember the central message.
A treasured nativity from friends
"Noel!" Christ is born!
These two photos taken at Stafford United Methodist Church

 Let the list go and enjoy the time with your family! (Now, if only I can take my own advice!)


  1. Beautiful, Kim. I plan to share this post with our life group from church. You've expressed exactly what I was hoping to convey in my weekly note to the group. Merry Christmas from 80 degree Houston.

  2. Thank you, Debora! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas in balmy Texas. Our weather at the moment is warmer than normal. But we are supposed to have a winter storm this weekend. I'm thankful it's not on Christmas Eve or Christmas!

  3. Merry Christmas to you and your family Kim.