We gathered in the living room of the Big Elk Lodge deep in the hills of the Ozarks overlooking Table Rock Lake. We had laughed our fair share, as we are known to do, but then we changed gears. We sat in a circle, facing each other, our voices joined in unison and the sounds filling the room with a richness no one can purchase. We spoke praises. We sang praises. Praises all to the One. The One that made the season make sense.
It was December 26th, 2011 and we were celebrating a little late due to other family Christmases that had to be shared in and amongst family members. Marriage will do that…in a good way. We intended to celebrate together though and we had resolved that the reason for the celebration is much more significant than the date. So after overeating, which is also a Christmas staple, we settled in and began our ‘service.’
The theme was contrast. My Uncle Jack, the pastor, had presented us with an idea a few days earlier. It was the idea that the gospel, Jesus Christ essentially, was full of contrasts that are not only intriguing but can teach us so much. Contrasts like Christ’s poverty despite His right to ALL wealth. His servant’s heart even though He deserved ALL service. His eternity despite His human birth. His meekness as the Lamb even though He is the Lion. His joy in trials even though He deserved none. His justice and His mercy. His self-imposed lowliness despite His right to be praised above ALL. His unending power restrained as He became a helpless infant in a manger.
We were each given a topic and asked to share a short testimony that applied which is not unusual for the Powell family. Sharing that is. We share a lot and thus we cry a LOT. (the poor newcomers are going to have to adjust to our waterworks cause it’s never going to change) So share and cry we did, each from a different perspective and a different approach but each with the same heart. A heart to honor the Lord. We shared and then we sang. My soon to be brother-in-law and my cousin are blessed with musical talent that is foreign to me (believe me) but such a blessing. So, we lifted our voices and sang Christmas carols and hymns, all in response to the goodness of Jesus Christ. In that moment I was grateful for another contrast. The cold of the winter season outside but the joyful warmth that was unfolding on the in. The reality of what I deserve, the holiness of that little infant in a manger and yet the gift of Amazing Grace. It is this contrast that is and always will be my favorite Christmas gift.
Hoping you and your family have had a wonderful Christmas season!