First Congregational Church
December 24, 2018
“Clearing the Frost from the Glass”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
It is said that what is old becomes new. Vintage becomes popular, despite it’s real meaning of “old.” Retro and Victorian are words that give new luster to dusty fashion. But there are some things that will never go out of fashion, babies and hope and love and anticipation.
I hadn’t really given the book series by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen much thought in the last several years, the series most commonly known as Chicken Soup for the Soul. There are all sorts of Chicken Soup’s for the Soul out there: for dog and cat lovers, those who are grieving or in recovery, baseball lovers and kids, mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses and even CSS recipe books. This evening, we all get to taste the one called The Joy of Christmas.
Donna Van Cleve Schlief wrote the story, My Crazy Dad. “I thought my dad had lost his mind. Night after night he asked me to look at the angel on top of our Christmas tree. She wore a little gold net skirt and she was pretty, but we had bought her a long time ago. She was old news.
Isn’t she pretty, Donna? Sure, daddy, it’s the same angel we’ve had for years. I was an 18-year-old college freshman and I knew my dad was ancient, being in his mid-40s. He was definitely losing it. There were still two weeks until Christmas, and he was pointing out the angel to me almost every day.
The Sunday before Christmas I found my dad sitting on the couch looking up at the angel again. He smiled at me and pointed toward the angel again. What in the world was going on with this man?
Finally, it was Christmas morning. Dad was still talking about our beautiful Christmas Angel. We opened our gifts and then daddy brought out the camera and a chair. “Donna, come over and stand on this chair", he said, “I want to take your picture next to the angel.” Now I knew he was out of his mind.
Go ahead, Donna, my mother whispered. Did I have to worry about her state of mind, to? I stood on the chair and turned toward the cheap little angel made in China – obeying my aging parents. And then I saw them – diamond stud earrings inserted into the Angels skirt. My dad had wanted me to find them early because he was so excited. I felt like such a brat to have doubted him.
The story ends 13 years later; one of the earrings missing and a little sadness, as the Chicken Soup stories tend. But it was a perfect story as the preamble to this worship service, because I believe God tries to get our attention to focus on the great gift of this night’s celebration: of anticipation and realization, of hope and faith, of a baby and a savior, shiny little lights of love all wrapped up in love.
It’s not exactly the same gift for each person here, but it is definitely one chosen just for you. You haven’t done anything to deserve this gift, and there is nothing you can ever do that will take this gift from you. It is given freely, and the only string attached is that you believe it, even just a tiny smidgeon, because even the smallest amount of faith can grow into a mountain of understanding of God’s love for you.
So go ahead, crawl up into God’s lap, and let the story of God’s love for you wrap you up in all the beauty and grace and joy of this night.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.