My grandma was an expert knitter and loved to crochet. I am a part of a long-line of women who spent their free time making intricate crocheted and knitted doilies, blankets and clothes. When I was about eight it was my turn to learn. I already knew how to sew and this was my next challenge. I sat across from my grandma with our knees touching, string in one hand and needle in the other awaiting the instructions that would take me from one stitch to the next. I was going to make my first doily that would grace my dresser. I had great dreams of being an expert just like my grandma. Unfortunately, this first lesson as well as the second ended in tears. My right-handed grandma struggled to teach her left-handed granddaughter ending our lessons and my dreams of being an expert in shambles.
I was reminded a few weeks ago by a friend an important lesson my grandma taught me as I watched her turn string into works of art, always make sure you have a lifeline. A lifeline is important when the stitching pattern is very difficult and it is easy to lose your way as you make each stitch. A knitter will put in a lifeline telling themselves this row is correct and if I make a mistake I will just return to the lifeline and start over. Whenever a person has to rip out row after row of a difficult pattern it often brings on feelings of frustration at the mistake and maybe even some tears. Immediately as the carefully pearled rows become ordinary string again they turn to gratitude because if it wasn’t for the lifeline they would have to start all over instead of ripping out a few rows.
Christmas is like a lifeline. This is where everything is new once again. Each year we return on Christmas Eve to mark the beginning of a new year and reflect on the year’s events. We think about the major events that occurred this past year, we remember the mistakes made and successes celebrated, broken and kept promises, dreams that have been fulfilled and those lost. This is the place we come to remember who we are and more importantly who God is for us.
At Christmas Eve services we remember the gift of Jesus’ birth. As we lift and lower our own Christ candles during Silent Night we return to our Savior who is our lifeline. The birth of Jesus Christ who forgives us and loves us unconditionally. The gift of God becoming human, laying his head in an ordinary manger, so that He too would understand the humbling and vulnerable places that we experience. Jesus chose to grow up with all the trials of humanness: the terrible twos, puberty, first jobs, lost jobs, lessons that must be learned, failures, experiences, hopes dashed, challenges faced, and promises broken and kept. Each moment of Jesus' life was so that He could say, “I understand,” “I have been there,” and “You are not alone.”
As you reflect on your past year, don’t forget that whatever has happened good, bad and difficult. Jesus is your lifeline. Return to the place in the manger where God calls you beloved. Where Jesus tells us He understands. And the Holy Spirit says I will never leave you. Merry Christmas to you all!