For many of us, this is the weekend the Christmas decorations go up. Some have had enough of COVID and decorated weeks ago and others have waited. Some of us simply put up a tree and others go all out. Some decorate only the inside and others both inside and outside. The dilemma is always, the more you put up, the more you have to take down. For those of us who have been decorating for years, much of what we put up has meaning. Our Christmas decorations reflect the pieces of our lives...people we have met, places we have traveled, something kids or grandkids have made, pieces passed down from one family member to another. Growing up, grandma had candles on her tree. We were not allowed to get close to the tree when the candles were lit, and there was always a bucket of water next to the tree.
Our tree is a mix of pieces I had, pieces Barb had and those we have collected together. There is a cable car from a trip to San Francisco, pieces from Norway, Iceland and Belgium. Pieces we have had since our first trees and antiques we have found. One-year family was coming to visit, and we finished decorating the tree very late. All our favorite pieces were on the tree, many on the front. We had no more than finished decorating the tree and walked away, and the tree fell over. It was not a pretty sight!!! Some pieces make it on the tree every year and others wait in the box for a while.
Our lives are like those Christmas pieces. Some people enter our lives and stay. Others God puts in our lives for a specific period of time and then they move on. Those people who come and go may point us in the right direction for what comes next. They might bring us peace of mind or comfort. Sometimes they simply walk part of our journey with us. And sometimes they change our lives.
We see in scripture how many times lives were changed in a short period of time. Think about the man who lived among the tombs in the region of Gerasene. Jesus and the disciples sailed there, a country across the lake from Galilee. They encountered the demon possessed man as soon as they got out of the boat. Because of Jesus the demons came out of the man and into a herd of pigs. The pigs rushed down a steep bank and into the lake and drowned. The towns people asked Jesus to leave because they were afraid. Jesus was there only long enough to cast the demons out of this man. He instructed the man to go home and tell people how much God had done for him. Then Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat and went back to Galilee. Jesus was in and out of the man's life, but it was changed forever. It was the same for Jairo's' daughter, the widow of Nani's son and the Roman centurion's servant. Who knows how many more there have been?
As Jesus, and then the disciples traveled from place to place, they taught and healed and moved on. They were in and out of people's lives. And lives were changed forever. Peter walked down the street in Jerusalem on his way to the temple and as his shadow fell on people who were sick, they were healed. Their lives...changed forever in Jesus name. Acts 5:15-16. And Peter never even stopped walking.
Many of us have been that person, in and out of someone's life. When we let God use us, we don't often know how or even when. And that is OK. We become a part of the fabric of their lives, just as Christmas pieces collected over the years become a part of our holiday celebration. As you think back over the years, many people have contributed to the fabric of your life. Some came and went. Others have stayed. There are people, just like Christmas pieces, that joined you in joyous, happy times. There are others that arrived when we knew sadness or perhaps grief. Some have even stop decorating for Christmas because looking at the pieces of past Christmases is too painful.
This year as you set up the tree and get out the pieces of your Christmas tradition, take some time to reminisce. What was happening when you acquired a certain piece. Where did it come from? And who were the most important people in your life at the time? It takes longer but what an amazing journey those pieces will tell. Just like the fabric of our lives, our Christmas pieces have a story to tell. In this year of challenges, it might be a good time to look back and give thanks for all the folks who have passed through our lives, and those who are still there.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W