Friday, December 25, 2015

Beating Back the Dark

We have had the first disaster of Christmas morning.  As he got ready to grill the turkey, my spouse opened the turkey packaging on the counter, not in the sink--turkey liquid everywhere!  This event led to the annual Christmas decontaminating of surfaces, and my sinking suspicion that we may have missed some germs.

Next year we will cook the turkey in the oven, as God intended.  Or maybe we will do something simpler--like have hamburgers.

Every year, as Christmas approaches, I watch cooking shows and see recipes I want to try.  Instead of choosing one festive meat, we often choose several, thus leading to the annual discussion of what we can reasonably eat and what should go in the freezer.

In the Advent days of planning, I forget how sleep deprived we will be on Christmas morning; last night we stayed after the 11 p.m. service to count money and make the bank deposit.  We didn't get to bed until after 2 a.m.

I forget how appealing a simpler approach will seem on Christmas morning, especially as I'm cleaning turkey slop from every surface.

But let me not focus on this disaster--which, as disasters go, is not horrible.  After all, we could have discovered this morning, instead of Wednesday morning, that we were out of propane gas.  But since we found out on Wednesday, we have plenty of gas for grilling.  Because I waited so long to buy a turkey, I bought it fresh, not frozen, so the bird was ready to cook  this morning.  The weather is beautiful.  My spouse and I did not let the day/week get derailed in arguments and blame and bad feelings.

Let me remember some joys of yesterday:

--My friend who has spent over a week in the hospital was finally released.

--Because she was so late in getting to leave the hospital, I got to be part of a team that helped her wrap her Christmas presents.

--I made chicken stock for today's recipes, which left us with lots of cooked chicken meat.  We made a wonderful chicken pot pie.

--Our 5 p.m. ukele-led Christmas Eve service was beautiful and festive.  The sing-along before was wonderful.

--I got to watch the children of the church rehearse their songs for the 7:30 service.

--Our hand chime presentation was wonderful.  I loved playing "Carol of the Bells."

--The counting of the money was simpler this year.  In part, that's because we had fewer people at the 11 p.m. service; we get the money from earlier services counted between services.  The deposit was easy too.  No threatening types trying to rob church folks making deposits after Christmas Eve services.

--As we drove back and forth in the dark, we saw lovely lights.  Does this mean that the economy is back on track?

Let me also remember less-festive parts:

--Between services as we drove back to the house for a quick bite to eat, I saw a woman and two young children walking along the sidewalk.  I assumed they were headed to the bus stop.  I felt a pang as I saw that the children were carrying stuffed animals.

--As we drove to make the bank deposit, I saw the 2 homeless people getting settled for the night in the doorway of our church.  You might wonder why we don't let them stay inside or find them housing.  After all, we let them use our bathroom when the church is open.  We bring them food.  But even these simple gestures are sometimes rejected.  Our church's two homeless people have some psychological disorders and are not easy to help.

--Always in the telling of the Christmas texts of light coming into the darkness and the darkness not overcoming it--there is that knowledge of the extent of the darkness.

But let me not focus on the darkness.

Let me remember the Christmas message.  The people who have dwelled in deep darkness have seen a great light.

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