Tag Archives: Jesus’ birth

“The Red Hat in a Gray-suit World”

“By the way, I’m not doing Christmas cards. If you want them sent, you’ll have to do it.”

According to Sam Gardner in Philip Gulley’s delightful “Harmony” series, it was the same “fight” every year. Sam, pastor of the Harmony Friends’ Meeting (Quaker church) would buy four boxes of Christmas cards at Kivett’s Five and Dime and lay them on the dining room table with the address book nearby.

On this particular year, nothing happened. So he moved the cards into the bedroom, placing them near his wife Barbara’s side of the bed. A day later, he found them relocated to his side with a note on top: “I wasn’t kidding.”

Sam’s a smart guy. I’m surprised he hadn’t figured out years ago that the only “safe” way to send Christmas cards to his parishioners was to put one in the newsletter so as to be utterly democratic about Yuletide best wishes. Any other approach is fraught with danger.

The Gardner’s Christmas card list was growing at an alarming rate. The main category comprised of the church membership list was especially large. It was easy to get in the directory. Even the repairman who had come to fix the church freezer just before the church ladies’ annual Chicken Noodle Dinner fundraiser for Brother Norman’s Shoe Ministry to the Choctaw Indians was rewarded with honorary membership. (Not a single noodle was lost.)

Once you were in the directory, well, there you were. To ever be removed took something very serious, something like a death certificate signed in triplicate. Non-attendance and non-giving would not do it. If you drove past the church once a month and smiled, you were on the list, like it or not.

All of which meant that the Gardner’s Christmas card list was beginning to look like the IRS roll and likely included a few folks long since deceased.

But the handwriting was on the wall, not yet on the cards, and so Sam got to work. And Barbara, after a compromise, helped. Sam would write the inside, she’d address the outside, and he’d do the stamps.

It was going well until Barbara read the one to the freezer repairman.

“‘We love you’? You wrote that on every card? Isn’t that a bit over the top? What’s wrong with ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Thinking of You’? The freezer guy will get a confusing message, Mr. Loverboy, and feel like he and his wife need to invite us over, and then we’ll have to invite them over—me, cooking—and . . .”

“If you remember, you told me to write the cards.”

It’s a sweet annual argument, Sam says. His wife, modest and traditional, argues for just a bit of reserve while he maintains that God, instead of sending a lawyer to ‘define the limits of love,’ sent His Son.

After all, Sam tells his good wife, “Christmas is not the time to hold back. It is the bold stroke, the song in the silence, the red hat in a gray-suit world.”

And so it is. Indeed, it is.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

  

Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Even at Christmas, the Circle of Life Is Often a Whirlwind

Christmas Pageant Kids 001

By the time you read this, the Christmas “mini-pageant” our church kids are presenting this year will be history.

But although this church is definitely a non-prophet organization, I can already tell you, as I’m writing two days before the event, it was cute and sweet, beautiful and full of meaning.

Right now, pageant practice is in the morning. If you walked through our church fellowship hall today and took a look at the stuff on the tables, you’d think a flock of Wise Men had molted.

Bethlehem didn’t see those wise fellows every day. Their appearance in our fellowship hall is a little unusual, too. We don’t do the pageant every year. Though, come to think of it, when we remodeled the sanctuary a number of years ago, straw still lurking in the crevices of steps up to the pulpit bore mute witness to more than a few past Christmas nativity plays!

It’s good to be encouraged to think about what that first Christmas must have been like. Some little wise “men” (one-third of whom is a wise girl, my granddaughter) who’ve not broken into double digits age-wise, but still look wise for their age, help our minds start mulling. As do some shepherds in bathrobe attire, a few sheep, a donkey (my grandson), and some sweet angels who’d never have to say, “Be not afraid!” because just looking at them makes folks smile.

Of course, if the wise folks had been a little wiser, they’d have told the shepherds that herding little siblings dressed up as sheep is uphill business.

But it all “works,” drawing our minds slowly but steadily away from bathrobes and escapee sheep; it points us to Bethlehem.

My mind needed some focusing this week. The week was promising to be a bit challenging schedule-wise even before it got started.

Some of the “busy-ness” was wonderful! One grandson was to be born on Monday (and he was!). Another was due on Wednesday. (Still holding, at this point.)

Then I got the call that a church member, dear friend, and amazing lady—91 years old—had passed away. I officiated and sang at the service Monday morning, jumped in my truck and made it to my newest grandson’s birth 100 miles away by early afternoon. He and I arrived at the nursery at almost the same time, a sweet meeting.

The “circle of life”? More like a whirlwind! My head was spinning. Even before the new fellow’s siblings—later cast as wise gal and cute donkey—came down with the flu. Then another granddaughter got bit by a stomach bug. (Two other grandchildren were still okay.) And one little grand-guy-to-come was still putting off his appearance.

Oh, well. It was into a world far from calm that the Babe of Bethlehem made his own entrance. It was a sinful, needy world. That’s why he came. And it’s into a heart, not a stable, that he wants to be welcomed again today. Yours.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne! Some of the music of the season is there–and even a potential gift or two!

 
Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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