As I went on my usual walk in the evening around our neighborhood, I was struck this weekend by what is most certainly a very American thing but also tells a much deeper story of us as humans.
While this is true of so many homes, I’m going to single one out for my specific reference. A particular house put up their outdoor Christmas decorations on Saturday, complete with bright, white lights all around, a red holly wreath on the front door, and a graphics projector anchored in the yard, shooting a rapidly moving message of “Merry Christmas” all over the garage doors.
Only about three weeks ago, this same house had adorned the front lawn with a plastic graveyard. Skulls and skeleton arms were positioned in the grass to give the appearance they were coming up out of the ground. A life-size replica of a coffin sat propped up on the left side of the yard with a full skeleton in it. When you walked down the sidewalk, a motion detector set off a sound recording of creaking, clanking, and screams from a speaker inside the coffin. But wait, there’s more. The motion detector also set off the multiple skulls planted in the yard to randomly light up.
So, in less than a month, a house went from celebrating death and the macabre with the goal of creating “fear” in whoever dared to pass by their property to a visible celebration of light and hope and merriment. Literally, one extreme to the other in just a few weeks. The props of death were gone and replaced by symbols of hope.
But nestled in between Halloween and Christmas was another Holiday. One where there were no decorations or light and sound technology present in the yard. Thanksgiving. Simply a day to reflect on gratitude for the blessings of life. But as with all thankfulness, it has to have a benefactor. After all, what good is gratitude with no one to thank? There has to be a someone to whom we give thanks. Hence, the name.
Now, to be clear, I intend nothing about this article as a judgment against Halloween or those who decorate for it. Actually, it’s a far bigger picture. The “flesh” we see displayed around October 31 in the form of skeletons and zombies is the reality of how we all begin, how we are born, as people. Fear rules. Darkness reigns. Hope is nowhere to be found. Life is scary. And display or not, we all know it. To truly understand the real meaning of the Holiday we are approaching called Christmas, we must also pass through and understand this reality of death and fear. And to do so we must then walk through gratitude and recognition of Someone who has given us all we have out of an abundance far outside of our own reach and ability.
So the recognition must come of realizing our hearts are created for the One who has given us our very lives so then our “yards”—the display we put forward out of where we actually live—can change to reveal the other side of life where hope and love and faith overcome the stuff of fear and death. The only reason there can be bright lights and festive décor in our “yards” in December is the Messiah—God with us—has come and is here. He has forever defeated death and we are indeed grateful. Like the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not fear for I bring you good news from God.”
My ministry, 517 Resources, Inc., a non-profit organization, is once again providing Christmas (clothing, shoes, and meal) for the children in the Bestwa feeding program at the site we partnered to build outside Buchanan, Liberia in 2014. There are 300 children at a cost of $10 each. If you enjoy this blog throughout the year, consider partnering to provide Christmas for these children trapped in a horrific third world life. Last year, you gave every dollar of the goal from gifts of $10 for 1 child to $1100 for 110. And no money is taken out by any ministry for admin costs. You may donate your tax-deductible gift here. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or info.