Pastormac’s Christmas Special Survey

Beating the System

Thanks to Cottonwood Chick-Fil-A and Terry the assistant store manager who was awesome!  I should also say that my wife and I did the reservations for the original Spicy Chicken sandwich and it was really an experience.  They  make it lots of fun with great service.  Still, perhaps I can claim to be the first person (outside of Chick-Fil-A employees perhaps) ever to experience the Spicy Chicken Biscuit of Chick-Fil-A.  that should make me some kind of pioneer, or something.  No?

Frankenpine lives!

We used to use real Christmas trees, and my wife would once have declared that an artificial tree was out of the question.  It’s true, there is something about a real tree, the smell, the ambience, a real tree has character that a plastic tree lacks.    It was hard to imagine an artifical tree with as much character…but that was before Frankenpine.

As our family got larger our house got smaller and our time got leaner,and  then fate intervened and an artificial tree insinuated itself into our lives.  This wouldn’t be the first stray to show up on our doorstep and become part of our family but it would be the first plant, and a  non-living one at that.  We got a cat that way.  She showed up every day insisting she belonged to us and only wore down my resistance when she showed up with a large wound and looking particularly pitiful.  We got a bird that way, when he flew in and landed on my son’s shoulder like a parrot looking for a pirate and that was just cool. But the cat ultimately died and the bird hates me now, so I can’t say that all these ventures have exactly been successful for me.

That’s why I’m all the more proud of Frankenpine! He’s not a particularly good tree in some ways.  He won’t stand straight and he’s kind of mixed up…

Anyway, Frankie showed up one day during the short stint we had an ebay business.  Christmas was a particularly good time to make a little extra money and one year we came into posession of a closing businesses artifical trees.  They were prelit and actually nice trees, not the plastic-needles from my childhood.  The only draw back was they weren’t guaranteed to have all their pieces and we kind of had to figure out what went with what to make a full tree.    Anyway to make a long story short (too late! (name that movie quote)), when all was said and done we had sold some trees and had one left over for ourselves.  However, as it turned out, the one left over was actually two left over.  The top was from one kind of tree and the rest from another.  Thus, our hybrid tree earned the name frankenpine.  When we set him up and we discovered that he didn’t quite fit the base either and thus leaned forward at you a little like a lunging monster, we suddenly discovered he had character indeed and he has become a part of our christmas tradition for the last 4 years since.

Shield the kid’s eyes.  Here’s frankie, in his headless state.


Now he’s got his head, but the lights don’t go all the way to the top so to speak.  Poor Frankie.  But wait…just like Frosty, once the children (Sweetly, in this case) put the angel on top (well, not just like Frosty.)…

Frankenpine Lives!  Notice how we’ve turned the lunging nature towards the wall.  It’s less scary that way 🙂

This is my dog Lucy, who insisted I put her in to make it clear that not all my strays have left or turned against me.   She loves me.  This is how she feels about decorating apparently.

And so another year, a little Christmas magic, a little chaos, some Christmas music, and 9 hard working Christmas elves and another traditional Frankenpine resurrection has been successfully completed.

A Pastor’s confession (I love Christmas)

I love Christmas.

Of course, being a Christian I do love most of all what it means in that context.  I love a rousing Merry Christmas and all it entails more than a generic Happy Holidays.  The coming of Christ is truly the most startling and amazing thing in all of human history.  As a demonstration of a loving God, there is no parallel; as a demonstration of an almighty God, it shows an astounding power for a transcendent God, a God beyond time and space,  to be able to drop into humanity at a chosen time and place.

There’s no doubt that all I love about Christmas comes from this connection of course.

There would be no Christmas without Christ and no reason to celebrate anything let alone this time of year, without His salvation.

But as a pastor, I have a confession.

I love Rudolph.

And Santa, and the Grinch, or at least his little puppy.  And little Cindy Lou Hoo, too.   Every year I think Linus’s exposition on Christmas is one of the best sermons I hear all Christmas Season.

I love the way other people love Christmas. I know it’s shallow and without substance for some, but not for all and  even so,  I love the totally irrational, depthless way people decide to be nice to each other on Christmas.  Sure I wish that we’d be nice to each other all year for the sake of Christ, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the one time a year certain normally nasty people become nicer.

Scrooge’s nephew Fred says it this way:

I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come around—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving charitable pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

I love Christmas Carol by Dickens.

I love Christmas Carols too.  I love songs about the cold cold snow much better than I like living in it!  I love the way people are singing praises to our Lord without even knowing it.  People in grocery stores, on the radio.  Big name stars singing worship music because it’s Christmas.  Granted sometimes it’s surreal or even a little uncomfortable, but I can’t help but cheer at the way God glorifies Himself even among those who are hostile.

I love Christmas movies, and Christmas cookies.  I love the way Starbucks will sell you the same cookie they had a week ago, but now it looks like a polar bear.

I love those polar bears we see on the coke commercials this time of year too.

I love the way coke tries to corner the market on peace and harmony every year at this time too.

I love it because coke is so obviously unable to provide something which equally obviously is so greatly desired by so many.  People are in effect reminded that to find peace and harmony they must go somewhere else.

Such desperate attempts to find replacement reasons for the season may strike us as shallow or even sad, but it should remind us that people desire the same things!

I love it all because while Evangelicals worry that Christmas is losing it’s meaning, the average American is desperately trying to remember what the meaning was.  They look for it in family, and music, and gifts, and special shows, special music, specialness.  They look for it not because they are shallow but because they are not.  They look in shallow places only because they don’t know where else to look.

The rest of the year we have to remind people that good exists.  We have to convince them that things which are not empirical and material may still be of value.  Things like love, and good will, and faith, and hope.  Things they readily run to at Christmas.

I love it because all the seeming distractions actually are nothing of the sort.  The desperate attempts to celebrate something other than Christ, only serve to remind us how fundamental the Lord is  For this once a year, people are free to remember that some things go beyond scientific proof.  Santa Claus or Rudolph, an irrational desire to be good or nice, the pretense that food is without calories for one month of the year.  All this really reminds those of us who know the truth that what we know is good.  We remember again that the one we know is good.  We remember again that what they want we have, and what they seek we can freely reveal.  We remember that we are not mean or arrogant or controlling to want to teach them the truth of the Gospel.  And for a brief window, we may find them actually willing to  think about God as a baby in a manger.

I love Christmas because hiding behind every shallow attempt at Merry is one who was born of Mary.