Pastor Mark’s eNote: Pictures of Christmas
Kathy got the idea from somewhere–a magazine that no longer exists is my guess. “We’ll take a picture every year,” she said, “and we’ll turn them into ornaments for the tree.” And, strangely enough, we did. Not every tradition we tried out lasted, but this one–thanks to Kathy’s persistence–has survived.
It started with our first Christmas as a married couple in 1984. On Christmas Eve, someone took a Polaroid picture of us by our Christmas tree in the associate pastor’s parsonage at Snellville (conveniently located on church grounds). Then, Kathy hot-glued some ribbon around it, and it all began. For the 31 Christmases since, we’ve taken a picture of the family, usually by a tree. Granted, some of them were of the “Oh-My-Gosh-We-Haven’t-Taken-the-Picture-Grab-the-Boys-and-Find-the-Camera-and-No-I-Don’t-Care-That-the-Boys-Are-Sweatty-and-Gross” variety, but we got the pictures.
And in the pictures is our story.
1986: Kathy great with child
1987: Stephen, eight months old
1988: Great with child again
1989: Two squirming toddlers
2000-2001: An extra teenager living with us
And so the saga rolled along. Thirty-two years, seven houses (six churches and one editorship for me [and in every place, friends, and saints who have blessed my days and a few other saints I’m glad to have escaped], three hospitals for Kathy [clearly, she can hold a job better than I can]), both of my parents gone now, and both toddlers married.
A camera, a moment in a year, a year among many. I believe they call this life. And through it all, in every one of those moments, Christmas.
In one sense, the day is a milepost along the way. We pause during our annual journey around the sun and take stock, rejoicing, grieving, counting heads and blessings, and, like the mother of our faith, pondering it all in our hearts.
In another sense, Christmas is the stream flowing through all the years, giving life to the life we measure. Or maybe it is the ground beneath our feet in every pose struck, or the air we breathe, or the Spirit of God that binds all the moments and all the years together, making every moment, every day of every year holy.
In the birth of Christ, heaven and earth, time and eternity, the holy and mundane all got jumbled together, no boundaries, no up, no down, just Emmanuel, God with us. In every photo taken, in every moment shared, in loss and birth, in brokenness and rebirth, Christ is there–blessing, claiming, beckoning, redeeming.
Shout. Rejoice. Christmas is here. Christ is born. Grab a camera and capture the moment. Then live in it, through every moment life brings.