Some seasonal messages speak with more eloquence through pictures. So this morning's post will simply comprise enough words to frame a few choice images.
The occasion - yesterday evening - was what I like to call "The fastest 15-minutes in the church year." Otherwise known as "The First Presbyterian Church of Brandon Preschool Christmas Pageant."
- The sanctuary full with parents and grandparents, mesmerized by their offspring.
- Forty-plus pre-school children, mesmerized by themselves.
- Organized chaos (the teachers insist it was carefully choreographed, but we're not so sure!).
- Pure, enthusiastic singing, from the bottom of their hearts.
- The spirit of Christmas, beautifully captured by children who are innocent enough to allow it to shine in and through them without holding back.
- The truth about faith: that belief is transformational.
SHINE: Okay, about that last one. Jesus repeated this idea time and again in all four Gospels. "Believing is seeing." This principle is illustrated beautifully around Christmas. The sad thing is that we have to work hard at our skepticism - we have to fine-tune and justify our lack of faith, whereas belief is more intuitive.
I love the way Jesus put it when he was questioned about "greatness":
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said:“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. - Matthew 18
I've always enjoyed the story of the pre-school girl who wanted to spend a few minutes alone with her newborn baby brother. The parents, concerned about allowing anything they couldn't monitor, eventually agreed, but only with the door open a crack. As they pressed against the opening, listening intently, they heard the following words. "You're brand new," she said, standing on a stool and looking intently into the crib; "Remind me about God. Because I'm beginning to forget."
When we allow ourselves to be surrounded by such praise and passion and joy and unfettered belief - then we all can learn how to remember once again.
In belief and in joy - DEREK