Looking backward through binoculars

December 20, 2007

What’s our perspective as we struggle to get through the last days of work before Christmas break, creeping home on congested, sloshy streets before surrendering to yet another holiday obligation – shopping, baking, a meet and greet …? Is it sometimes a little like looking backward through binoculars?


If that’s the case for you, the message sent round this week by the Rev. Floyd Quenzer of Grace UMC in Fresno, California may help bring Christmas into focus for you. It did for me!


Christmas, 2007


Dear Friends,


Years ago the cartoon strip “Family Circus” carried a cartoon that illustrates what happens so often to Christmas. It showed a little girl holding her baby brother in her lap and telling him the story of Christmas. Here is how her account read:


“Jesus was born just in time for Christmas, up at the North Pole, surrounded by tiny reindeer and the Virgin Mary. Then Santa Claus showed up with lots of toys and stuff and some swaddling clothes.


“The three wise men and elves all sang carols while the Little Drummer Boy and Scrooge helped Joseph trim the tree. In the meantime, Frosty the Snowman saw this star.”


It’s easy to see how she could be confused. So many secular trappings surround the celebration of Christ’s birth that we could easily lose track of the real meaning of this wonderful season.


It reminds me of a nearly tragic incident that occurred in Texas some time back.


It was a 99-degree September day in San Antonio, when a 10-month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth.


It had become a life or death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car and set the baby free. Was he heralded as a hero? Fred said, “The lady was mad at me because I broke the window. I just thought, ‘What’s more important, the baby or the window?’”


As a church it often seems as though we are swimming upstream in our attempt to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas as we understand it. We want to be faithful in proclaiming the message of Christ’s birth through our worship, music, sermons, and in every other way possible.


Rev. Quenzer concludes by reminding us that when there is so much need for the necessities of life as well as a stable environment, looking outside our inner circle can free us from that “finding just the right gift” pressure. Giving to someone less fortunate than we is “that perfect gift”!