This week’s chapters from our companion book, Letters to Santa, ends with Polly’s arrival on Christmas Eve. Polly loves the store, but she didn’t go to Evergreen to buy a store. Instead, she offers Lisa and Oliver jobs in Boston. Her offer further complicates the emerging relationship between Kevin and Lisa.
Will Kevin accept the job offer in Maine? Will Lisa return to Boston to work for Polly? Well, it is a Hallmark story!
Before Polly’s arrival, Kevin surprised Lisa with a second Christmas tree in the center of the store. He doesn’t try to fully decorate the tree, however, knowing that decorating is Lisa’s speciality. Kevin was against the idea when Lisa first wanted a second tree. His focus was on the critical repairs that weren’t as visible but could stop them in their tracks if ignored. He criticized the idea arguing there wasn’t time for a lot of extra decorating with so much to do.
Kevin learned something else about working with Lisa. The secret to a beautiful display is not balanced perfection. Instead, Lisa leaves something slightly askew that makes her design more interesting.
Also, Kevin realizes something about himself. He focuses on what’s left instead of experiencing the beauty found in each moment. He notices how much Lisa enjoys her work and makes the most of each moment.
Perhaps we can all learn something from Lisa about beauty.
On the other side of the balance between beauty and askew is violence. And the intersection between beauty and violence is often too close for comfort.
We celebrate Christmas living in a violent world. The death toll in Gaza is staggering. And the violence perpetrated against Ukraine is heartbreaking. Also, the shooting at Prague University the week before Christmas causes flashbacks of violence in our own backyard. Not to mention flooding and the persistent threat of devastating weather.
These events mirror the violence found in scripture. God is aware and present at the intersection of beauty and violence.
Scripture is full of violence. Scripture is full of violence because there is violence in the world. And scripture is about the world. A world full of stories of violence and darkness.
The story of our faith began when God first revealed God’s self to Abraham. This introduction set off a history of emergence for Abraham, for his family, and for the world.
But Abraham’s peace wouldn’t last for long. Instead, a time comes when brothers turn against brother and the youngest is taken away, only to emerge later as a powerful leader who saves his family.
Generations later, the descendants of Abraham become slaves in Egypt. But God calls a leader to emerge out of the violence and lead his people through the wilderness to a promised land. A land of beauty. The rhythm between beauty and violence continues.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
The people of the covenant take part in violence and are victims of violence. And from time to time, darkness settles over the land and people. But beauty always emerges. God, speaking through the Prophet, Isaiah, says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
God’s prophecy is a promise that God’s light calls forth beauty once again and the people emerge from the darkness so we see their beauty. This prophecy was relevant when it was first spoken, but also points to a more powerful event when God spoke and beauty emerged from the aftermath of violence.
A young woman, her story foreshadowed by this prophecy and others, is visited by a messenger from God. She is puzzled by the sudden attention. Shaken by the interaction and perhaps doubtful that the angel’s message could be true. Mary is left with a statement of divine insight. “There is nothing that God cannot do.” How easily we forget!
The Son that Mary carried within her body was none other than God living among us. He knew that we creatures forget that violence never has the last say. That just as the violent beginning of the universe gave way to planet earth where God placed creatures who carry God’s image, the light will overcome the darkness.
At the time of His birth, we read that there were shepherds tending to flocks of sheep in a field outside of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Common day-workers perhaps. Living with the animals they were hired to watch over and to protect.
But God’s message is for all people. No creature is left out. No person is excluded. It doesn’t matter what job we do, where we sleep, or who we sleep with, God’s love is pervasive. God’s light overcomes the darkness.
We read that God’s messengers also came to these unnamed and unlikely persons. I can only imagine what it may have been like. Was the area lit up like a stadium, or was it just the glow from the messenger’s demeanor?
Luke tells us, “The glory of the Lord shone over them, and they were terribly afraid. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.” ALL PEOPLE!
On Monday, we celebrate Christmas. The evening before, we remember. We remember a time when God was so near that a young mother kissed his face. An expectant father held God in his arms. Beauty emerged out of the violence of systemic oppression, terror, danger, and ironic inconvenience. Beauty that shined so brightly others could not miss the opportunity to see for themselves.
My prayer for all of us is that we will emerge from whatever keeps us from sharing our beauty with each other. God so loves the world that each of us is special. A reflection of God’s love. They made us in God’s image. We reflect God’s love for creation as the light of the world illuminates our beauty.
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Parts of our series was inspired by Nancy Naigle. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa. Hallmark Publishing..© Crown Media Family Networks, 2019.