I use to poke fun at some of the gaudy decorations I would see in people’s yards. Over time, however, I have come to better appreciate the efforts people make so that their houses are festive. When I jog through the neighborhoods I know the houses that will use nothing but blue lights, and the ones that will decorate with blinking lights. I can take you right to the home that has an electric candle in every widow – the bulbs are bright red. The last few years I have seen more and more yards festooned with those giant inflatable characters. With every home that hangs quaint evergreen wreaths there are two more homes that have a giant inflatable bear in a toy soldier suit. By comparison, our yard is rather drab. We have some garland hanging over the banisters with magnolia leaves as accents. Right in the center hangs a Moravian star. That’s it. The star doesn’t sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas and the lights on the garland to not change from purple to blue and then to red.
When my children were younger they begged for gaudiness. They wanted lights, and lots of them. One year we added a few white lights to the shrubbery but that was not good enough. They want multi-colored, disco-infused, dancing lights. “Too gaudy” I say. But I think I am starting to change my mind.
There is comfort in knowing how my neighbors will decorate to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Sure, an inflatable Snoopy in a Santa hat doesn’t have much to do with the babe in the manager, but it sure beats the house darkened with ordinary.
The birth of Jesus deserves our belly laughs and extreme efforts. He was born in relative obscurity in a stable in Bethlehem, but since his birth the world has evermore changed. That’s why my favorite Advent services are the ones that include the children of the church. Their singing, acting, jubilance and enthusiasm are far from professional but most devoutly spiritual. Thanks to all who lead and serve in our children’s ministry.
I say go ahead and light up the glow-in-the-dark outdoor nativity scene and while you are at it, add some colored lights just for me. Let’s offer to God our child-like merriment, unvarnished and removed from pretense. My hunch is that if we practice this festivity with our homes our lives are sure to follow. After all, Jesus said we are to come to our faith as a little child.
Grace and peace,