“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”Luke 1:41
Growing up with a December birthday in Virginia meant a lot of plans centered around Christmas and the cold weather. Lots of birthday parties cancelled due to ice storms or forgotten due to holiday parties surrounding the month. For the most part I didn’t mind because the 8th is far enough away from Christmas that I felt celebrated and always felt loved as we held several opportunities to celebrate not only my birthday but Christmas as well.
The one thing that was constant in my December joys was growing up with a mom that loved Christmas and was always a part of the decorating of the large church facilities. Each year our church would hold a night gathering to do a full decorating of the sanctuary, fellowship hall, outdoors, and hallways. We would gather for a finger food dinner and disperse throughout the campus to hang lights, greenery, ribbon, and more. It was an event that gathered people of all ages and we would end in the sanctuary to sing Christmas Carols, decorate the tree and end with the turning on of the lights. It was simple but magical to be a part of this experience with my church family. The tree was always this enormous live tree that sat in the front corner of the chancel and was filled with Chrismons, which are ornaments designed to tell the Christmas story or symbols of the Christian faith. They are only white and gold on the tree and my mom contributed to the collection of these beautiful reminders by carving from Styrofoam Chrismons that represented the wise men.
I am always in awe of how each church I have been delighted to serve has different traditions of beautifying the grounds to celebrate the season of Christmas and remind us of the holiness of symbols. Whether it’s an official Hanging of the Greens, a team of people gathering for a special night and service of carols, quiet behind the scenes “fairies” (volunteers) there is something special about being in the space where so much love and care from a variety of people is displayed in the month of December.
This season, though things may seem different in some ways, there are so many things that remain the same. As I am planning with our worship team the Hanging of the Greens this year we have our traditions in place, our volunteers preparing the space for a beautiful season of Good News. The Good News that Jesus is near and we once again remember how Jesus entered the world the same way you and I did. We entered through the day of our birth, a baby vulnerable. We celebrate the life of Jesus each year, just as you and I celebrate a year of life on earth. Thanks be to God for the reminders that we all have stories to share and memories collected of the joy of this season and so many other seasons of life.