Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Passing the Torch ... Or the Star

It's all about passing the torch ... or, in this case, a tinseled star.
I sat near the front of the Stafford United Methodist Church sanctuary on Sunday, looking forward to the children's Christmas program. This year, I wasn't nervously wondering whether kids would remember their lines. I wasn't concerned about little girls and the etiquette required when wearing dresses. I didn't have giant lyric poster boards prepared to help cue the singers or actors. 

For a dozen years or so, it was my job to worry about such things. How do you choose who gets this part or another and keep everyone happy? What would happen if one of the actors came down with the flu? How would I shuffle the lines?

I was just there to enjoy and to click the camera shutter for the church's newsletter and Facebook page updates. 

And then I saw the star. It's probably been a quarter of a century since I carefully taped and stapled a thick rope of tinsel to yellow poster board. Back then, I added a dowel to the back so little angels could make it appear over the Holy Family in the church's Christmas pageants.
It guided Three Wise Men (People) to worship the newborn King with foil-wrapped packages.
In 2016, the same star still shone as little voices sang the timeless "Away in a Manger" and recited Christmas poems. And I thought about passing the torch ... and passing the star.
Kristen Knight has been director of our children's Christmas program for the past few years. But when I see her, I sometimes don't see the grown up wife and Mommy of three. I see the little girl who wore a shepherd's costume one year, was an angel the next or played some other part in one of our full-blown Christmas musicals as she and her contemporaries got older: The Missing Magi, A Star Is Born and Gettin' Ready for a Miracle, to name a few.
More often than not, that tinseled star made an appearance during the Christmas program. It was used downtown when it was our church's turn to provide the Living Nativity during Christmas Wonderland.
Brent & Jill at Christmas Wonderland, downtown Stafford
It's not the only prop that survived the test of time. A shepherd's crook also made repeat appearances in church productions. Brent was holding it in the Living Nativity in the photo above. And, if you look closely, you can see Kristen had it in her hand in the photo of our long-ago Christmas program.

On Sunday, one of Kristen's sons held the same shepherd's crook that belongs to his grandpa, while a friend held another.
For most churches, we'd rather hear these little voices than have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir unexpectedly show up to give a Christmas concert.
Jill - circa 1995 or so
You see, it's not just about a cardboard star or a shepherd's crook or cardboard box We Three King gifts that just need a new layer of foil every few years. It's about sharing the story of Jesus' birth with that next generation of believers. 
Brent - Christmas 1991 - age 3
It's about teaching those centuries-old songs so that they become as familiar to the next generation as a warm and cozy blanket on the coldest day of the year.
This December, one of my church jobs was finding families to light the Advent candle, and I've tried to pick those with young children. I remember lighting the candles with Jill & Brent when they were small and trying to teach them the lessons of the Advent wreath: hope, joy, love and peace. 
Last year, it was a privilege to watch Jill, Eric and the girls light the Advent candles at their church. 
Even in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we see those lessons being passed along. Families pull gift tags from an Angel Tree and carefully select and wrap gifts to give to another little boy or girl who may not have a Christmas without our help. Children gather around the church's Mission Wagon and pray for the people who will receive the gifts - whether for the school, the Food Bank or UMCOR health kits.
Last year, I watched Kinley add gloves and a hat to their church's giving tree. My heart swelled that our daughter is now teaching the same lessons to her girls that she learned as she made another little girl's Christmas dreams come true in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart.
During Advent, we wait for Emmanuel, God with Us. And as the tinseled star shone last Sunday morning, He arrived yet again.

"And a little child shall lead them." Isaiah 11: 6

 Thanks be to God!


  1. Love it!!! It seems ages ago!! I love seeing our grandkids step into the shoes of our kids!! I, like you, would rather hear a little angel choir rather than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!!
    Grandma Tami

    1. Thanks, Tami! In some ways, it seems like yesterday. I loved the program on Sunday. Thanks for your part in it!

  2. I love your view point, Kim. It is heartfelt, God inspired and real. I'm sure it is fun to see your granddaughters and daughter carry on faith-filled family traditions. I can imagine it is also fun to see the same from your neighbors and family friends.

    I hope you and the family have a joyous weekend!

    1. Thanks, Robyn! We are having our immediate family Christmas on Friday and we'll be at my folks' on Christmas Eve, which, you may recall, is also my mom's birthday. Then we'll be at Randy's sister's on Monday, so I guess I'd better buckle up for a whirlwind. Blessings to you and your family this Christmas!

  3. How great that you have generations in photo-- mine are mainly in my mind! :)

  4. I have more in plastic tubs somewhere. These happened to be ones that I had pulled out while I was trying to put together my kids' graduation scrapbooks (which I haven't touched since their graduations). Oh well! I wish blogging had been a "thing" back then. I'd be better organized with my photos! The kids' 4-H books are the only organized record they have.