Last Sunday morning, a week before Christmas Eve, I finally hung our Moravian star on the front porch. In the hustle and bustle of the season I hadn’t taken it out of its Home Depot box and gotten Keith to patiently put the plastic triangles together. I missed it shining out there at night and on cloudy days, reminding me of Christmases past, of my parents and grandparents and big dinners at our house, the warmth and security of my youth.
Many houses in my hometown of Greensboro have the 3 dimensional star on their front porches and atop their Christmas trees. The Moravians who settled in nearby Winston-Salem in the 1800’s brought many wonderful Advent traditions which have become part of the fabric of the area, including a simple candlelight Christmas Love Feast. When I see the star’s warm glow I feel myself sitting with my parents at First Baptist in Greensboro for the Christmas Eve service and coming home in the cold dark to luminaries lining the streets of our neighborhood.
Wake Forest borrowed the tradition from down the road at Old Salem and as a college student worn out from exams, I remember enjoying a quiet evening at the Love Feast held on campus, complete with sweet buns and rich creamy coffee.
My Christmas this year has been filled with time spent with friends, a walk through holiday lights at a 19th century ruin, a 5k with jingle bells on my shoes, cards from loved ones, and the annual Christmas Sweater Band performance at school. I’ve attended beautiful and moving church services and enjoyed the Yuletide playlists on Pandora. We had Adam here for several days and then Jess and our grand dog Molly and had a great time with them. Today Keith and I are enjoying a quiet morning and I’m listening to the joyful music of the Messiah in my kitchen. Life is good.
Each Christmas is a mish-mash of emotions and memories, Christmas past, present and future rolled together. Sometimes it’s exhausting. I’m constantly seeing my life go before me, from my childhood to my teen years to the fun years when Adam was little. It’s mixed in with the satisfying present with my family healthy and happy, and anticipation of more good times to come.
But always mixed in with my joy at Christmas is this little niggling anxiety – what will next year be like? Will I look back on this year and remember how good it was because next year will be sad?
When Jesus was born that first Christmas morning, past, present and future came together. He was the culmination of years and years of prophecy, born to parents who were struggling as strangers in a new city. And his birth promised hope for those of us to come after.
I pray that your Christmas 2017 will be full of sweet memories, happy times with family and friends and hope for the future.
I’m reminded of the lyrics of O Little Town of Bethlehem:
Because of that hope, I know that I will make it through whatever the future may hold.