Comment by Ken: I know many take their Christmas trees down on New Years Day, but not Dale and me. Although it wasn’t put up until Christmas Eve, my mother loved her Christmas tree so much that one year our postman said to my mom, “Mrs. Boyle, your Christmas tree is still up, and it is February.” Guess perhaps Dale and I are a little like her, and who knows, our Santa tree may be up until February if we don’t start to put it away soon!
Scripture: Matthew 9:
35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Last evening was a beautiful evening here in Hopkinton. It had snowed off and on all during the day yesterday, and the darkened snow at the sides of the road had turned pure white again. Dale was home from school yesterday as school was cancelled because of the storm.
Now we have not taken down our Christmas tree as it was still fresh and green, but last night seemed the perfect time to put that part of Christmas away. Dale had picked out our tree in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, and I believe we will do that again for we have loved our tree this year. It is amazing that our tree (smaller than many we have had) could have held so many ornaments. I unwrapped them, and Dale put them on the tree. Most all of those ornaments bring so many memories.
If you were to ask me what my favorite Christmas decoration is, I would normally reply my outside Christmas tree with colored lights on it at night. To me, the colors of those lights when that small pine tree is snow covered are magical. However, if I think more deeply about that favorite Christmas decoration, it would be our decorated Christmas tree inside our home. Now, I have to go one step further and say that above all decorations, it has to be the nativity scene. Over a long period of time, Dale gave me an Irish nativity scene that is wonderful to behold. I also have the beautiful nativity that is on loan to Candleberry Chapel. It is magnificent when it is placed on the beam and window at the front of the Chapel. And on top of my desk, I have a city nativity in a framework model of a gazebo I thought I might one day construct. Then I have a collection of Danish Christmas plates that hold great meaning in my life. Just a minute, just a minute -if I ponder all of this, I guess I must admit I love all the symbols of the birth of Jesus Christ. From the time I was a little boy, I have loved the Christmas season with all my being and heart. No matter what the time of year, if I am sad or weary inside, I think about the joy of Jesus Christ, the wonderful gift of God and the happy celebration we have in our homes to mark that miraculous event – Christmas.
The nativity scene at Christmas is certainly the central point of focus, or should be in our homes, but the other decorations have great and significant meanings in our Christian faith. Take for example the tree that Dale and I dismantled last evening. Almost every ornament, which tradition says should represent the divine and human qualities of Christ, represent also people and events in our lives – at least most of them.
Jesus Christ’s whole purpose of ministry was to serve the children of His father, God. Jesus heals men and women both physically and spiritually in Bible times and today. He is the minister to people, people, people. The ornaments on our Christmas tree that was in my new study this year represented so many memories of people. I took off an ornament on our tree that had a church painted on it. Dale and I purchased that ornament on a visit to Newport after we were married. We learned that we both had significant ornaments we had shared with our children in previous times, but now was a time to establish some new ornaments that were of the present day. Let us go over some of the stories behind those ornaments.
There is an ornament that my Aunt Mildred and Uncle Alfred had on their tree for years; it is a small basket. My aunt and uncle never had any children so my brothers and sisters and I were their children.
There is the last ornament my mother gave to me; it has on it the year 1979. That was the last Christmas my mother was alive. She gave me an ornament every year for my Christmas tree.
There is an ornament, one of the few Dale has from her family tree that has printed on it “The Briggs Twins,” for Dale and her sister Gail.
Another ornament has my name on it; it is all faded and very old – yes very old. My mother purchased an ornament with my name on it, and one also for Irene and Lawrence, my sister and brother.
There are teddy bear ornaments that were Dale’s children’s ornaments and some that Dale made herself. There is a paper angel Kadie made and a star with a picture of our granddaughter Cordelia that Delia made when she was in the first grade.
As I took off the ornaments, I found the last one my father gave me. There is an ornament that is huge that my children loved and entitled “ Big Greenie.”
On that tree, we have an ornament given to us by Ruth Gower from her tree – a cherub with a horn.
There is a cloth boat given to me from a wonderful doctor’s daughter who knew I was timid of boats so it was a teasing gift.
Some of my favorite ornaments are from the late forties and ones that my parents had on our tree at Christmas time. They are faded now, but they bring back such wonderful Christmas memories.
There is a small cross-stitch bag that Annie made for the tree one year, and there is a “pigsicle,” – a ceramic icicle in the shape of a pig that Bradford loved.
Every Christmas when our tree is decorated and every Christmas when the decorations are removed, I live memories of loved ones in my life and in the life of Dale. Each ornament as I remove it is most carefully wrapped and some thoughts about what that decoration means is considered as I place the ornament carefully in the container.
Perhaps some of you who will walk with me today have given me an ornament; I promise you, although it might not have been mentioned in our walk, that you were remembered when I carefully put it on our tree and took it down.
God determines the days of our lives, but every Christmas I am grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ and for the people who have been a loving part of my life. What a fortunate man I am to have been brought up as a Christian, to have a loving wife and family, to be warm and sheltered, and to not know hunger and cold in my home. How blessed I am to have had so many meaningful people in my life and you who walk with me are one of them.
I never dreamed I would be a pastor when I was a young boy and a young man; I wanted to be a rich dentist. God gave me riches beyond my greatest hopes – the riches of a loving savior and a community of people who are an important part of my life. You are one of them. God bless you and thank you for walking with me this morning, January 18, 2018.
Prayer: Dear God, how great is our wonder and gratitude for the gift of Jesus Christ. Like Him, may we so love others and You that Your will on earth may be done as Your will is done in Heaven. Amen.
Until we walk again, “ May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”