Archive for December, 2012

December 24, 2012

One year ago, I was told of new family traditions…

       In the time I spent in Italy and Switzerland for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my broken chaotic family began embracing rituals I had only dreamt of for many years.  It seemed as if every Thanksgiving from then on out would be spent around a bonfire on the beach with our childhood neighbors.  Every Christmas Eve, my entire family and theirs would connect for late conversation after attending a Christmas Eve service at their church. It became the one day a year my father and brothers were found within church walls.  These were my anticipations for this holiday season…

When it finally became time to set off for California this season, the Lord made sure of one thing: it is His Story that counts this season. Both churches (my Denver and Oceanside churches) spoke of Simeon in the Christmas story (Luke 2:30-38).

This year, I find myself desiring to know the Italian kids I spent last year with.  They are in a time of great maturation and are developing independence from parents with a dash of group think from peers.  As the season approached, I made the commitment to obey and serve my parents and brothers as they so ask, in order to best represent the work of Christ here on earth.  It became clear that my family is the basic part of my broken testimony and I cannot share such words with them so in order for the Lord to be seen through me in their eyes, He would work through actions.

Presents came and went. Cooking and cleaning continued on for too long. Awkward silence and prolonged discussions of finances and material possessions filled the crevasses of awakened attention spans.

It came time for Christmas Eve, and our uncle and great aunt stayed until late evening; the neighbors were no longer expecting our company.  My brothers headed their separate ways, and my mother disappointed in another failed family event.  Due to a quickened tiredness, my parents and I decided to attend the 8pm service at our neighbor’s church, but it was not my own.

The account of Christmas is the essence of Christianity, it is the birth of Christ that unites God’s children.  Now, more than ever, I desire to spend the season in His grace surrounded by praise, not consumerism.  I learned this evening that the only tradition that has remained over my Christian years in the US is a candlelight ceremony at North Coast.  Although the venue changed, the musicians rotate years, and the message is never identical to a previous sermon; the feeling remains genuine.  Christmas Eve is a time for the Body of Christ to come and praise Emmanuel, Mary, Joseph, and God for coming, fleeing, trusting, fighting, learning, and serving in response to the troubles of historical times. North Coast embraces the Christmas story: Jesus is the Light of the world, the spark that keeps us from utter darkness.

This evening, my father did not collect a candle.  He respects that he rejects Jesus as Savior, and in silence he denied the Light to be shared with or by him.

My prayer remains for his heart to know Jesus, to feel God’s presence within himself.  And for my mother, that she too earns for a relationship with an unfailing love found in God.

I have a tradition! It is recognizing God’s Light here, among the darkness.  Christmas is a time of celebration, of gratitude, and of submission to God’s presence.  In the midst of salvation, there is nothing that is of value apart of God Himself.  Nothing is deserving of my attention, other than that of which is in the Lord, Christ Jesus.



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