Christmas brings so many memories and meanings to each of our minds. Two of our senior adults, Bob Barlow and Edna Taylor, sat down with two 7th graders, Ethan Sexton and Will Schindler, as well as Pastors Tim and Heather to talk about the meaning of Christmas in their lives. Read some of the conversations transcribed below. As you read these reflections, ask yourself the questions we talked through.
1. What does Christmas mean to you?
Will: What does Christmas mean to you?
Edna: First of all, it means that we’re celebrating Jesus’ birthday. And God really celebrated it with gorgeous stars and angels and their beautiful songs and how God led the wise men right to the place where they were. I mean it was so exciting, really. Anybody who doesn’t know the Christmas story from the Bible, they really are missing something. It’s one of the most exciting stories. I can’t think of anything more to say about that question, but I just wish everybody knew the Christmas story from Luke 2 and Matthew.
Will: So what does Christmas mean to us?
Ethan: I think it’s a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth and God’s life, and also to celebrate everything in life with family and friends.
Will: Yeah, I probably couldn’t have said it better myself.
2. Tell me about a favorite Christmas memory.
Heather: Do you have a favorite Christmas memory or one of many you’d like to share?
Bob: Well, you know, that’s one of the busiest times in athletics because they have tournaments. And sometimes we would go to the two during the Christmas season and you’re probably involved with at least 4 or 5 games, and if you’re good, you’re involved with more than that. So that Christmastime kept me hopping, and I didn’t really like to… I’ve done a better job of worshiping and enjoying Christmas since I retired from teaching.
Heather: You had to spend a lot of time with students and with athletes then, didn’t you?
Bob: Well, yes, I was involved with the team. And we also during that period of time it didn’t stop practice, in fact we got more of it. I don’t know. I think back. I think my favorite Christmas was when Mother (I’m a twin) and we both got brand new silver king bikes. It was our first bikes. It was a wonderful present. Because my mother had to raise 3 kids because my father died when I was very young. I was 9 years old when he died. And then he spent most of those years when he was alive either in the hospital or upstairs in bed because he was slowly… well, he was just a very sick man. So I hardly knew him. And all that fell on Mother. But she kept us fed. She was a great mother.
Will: So, tell me about your favorite Christmas memory.
Edna: Well, some of the favorite Christmas memories were the little church programs we had. I can remember my mother teaching Christmas songs and poems to me and my brother, and she taught us to teach so loud. I can remember standing up there at the pulpit and saying those things, and oh I practically yelled. And one woman told my mother, she said “Your children were the only ones that I understood.” But of course mama had been a school teacher and she really made us project. Those Christmas programs at church are some of my very favorite memories. And that’s where I learned the carols was through those Christmas programs. Of course I learned them at school later on, I mean we sang them at school later on, but it was church that I really learned those beautiful carols that I still cherish.
Will: Do you have a favorite?
Edna: O Little Town of Bethlehem is one of my very favorites. Of course I love Silent Night just like everybody else, I guess. But I love that O Little Town of Bethlehem and The First Noel.
Will: Those are all some of my favorites too.
Will: Tell me about your favorite Christmas memory.
Ethan: I really liked how you [Edna] said Christmas programs. Those were fun, like getting ready for them…
Will: I always enjoyed doing those too. I remember my favorite Christmas memories are we’d wake up on Christmas day and we’d get up like 5 o’clock in the morning and wait at the top of the stairs until finally we could convince our parents to get out of bed, drag them downstairs so we could open our presents, and then about noon we’d drive down to our grandparents house, and we would go and spend the after-, we’d get there at night, and sometimes we’d have like a Christmas dinner, then we would go and unwrap all of our presents, and it was really awesome spending time with family and the presents too… that was fun too.
Ethan: I would remember I would always try to sleep in later, so like when I got up, I could just go downstairs. My mom would always make quiche and it’s really good.
Will: My mom recently she’s always made sausage balls, it’s like this cheese and it’s really good.
Ethan: My mom makes also--she does this for worship2worship sometimes--the rice sausage casserole.
Will: Oh, that’s good.
3. How do you get yourself (and your heart) ready for Christmas?
Heather: How do you like to celebrate Christmas, to remember the birth of Christ?
Bob: I just think I personally use that as a [chance] to please Jesus, and when I do … that’s a one-time gift to Lottie Moon. And I like Lottie Moon because it goes directly to where it’s suppose to go. Anyway, I do my best to worship Christ. And I’m sure I fall short on that. If we all got what we deserved, what I don’t want, we’d be sent right straight to hell. And thank goodness for Christ Jesus. And I think his birth. I think that everybody living today has a lot to be thankful for because he lives after the birth of Christ. I would hate to have grown up in Old Testament times. And I’m not sure how God is going to make all those judgments there. But it’s a wonderful peace to know that Christ is in heaven waiting for us. And he’s presenting us to God sin-free. What a wonderful gift. It has nothing to do with works. Although people try to bring it in. For instance, I have a hard time with [James?], I’m not real sure who wrote that, I think it was Paul, but whoever wrote that, they spent a lot of time talking about works. And I think that works are something that just comes naturally if you’re trying to please the Lord. So that I try to worship a little extra I guess at Christmastime and Easter.
Ethan: How do you get yourself and your heart ready for Christmas?
Will: Well, spiritually-wise, I always enjoy reading the Christmas story and stuff like that. And also, besides just the spiritual part of Christmas, I really enjoy listening to Christmas music.
Ethan: That’s pretty much the same with me. I like reading the Bible verses and then once it’s closer I listen to the music.
4. At Christmastime we talk about Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. Where do you see “God with us”?
Ethan: At Christmas time we talk about Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. Where do you see God with us most?
Edna: Well, I feel like God’s just all around us. And I just think it’s so exciting that God brought all nature in when he let the world know--that world know--that something very special had happened. Angels singing. The gorgeous big star. It must have been very light that night. Beautiful. Of course, when a person’s been born again, we have immediately the presence of the Holy Spirit and we’re never the same again. Never.
Will: One of the places I see God a lot is, one, at like church and stuff. And I often see him, just in different places. A lot of the time I see him at school, just like different things. And then one place where I really saw him is on the mission trip I went on and camp Bigstuf.
Ethan: I think like at Christmas Eve, usually we go up to Louisville with my cousins and their Christmas Eve service is a lot like ours, like they have the candle and music, and they have an ensemble at their church, sort of like how we do it a few weeks before. It’s really nice. I just feel it a lot.
Edna: I like those candlelight services. I think it sets an atmosphere.
Tim: It does bring a little bit of the sacred to the craziness of Christmas.
Heather: Lets you slow down a little bit.
Edna: The Lord’s Supper. I think that’s very meaningful.
Heather: Well I hope our reflections can help other people to reflect on the same questions and to find meaning in the busy time. And just to remember where they see Christ in their memories and in their present this year.
Edna Taylor, Bob Barlow, Will Schindler, Ethan Sexton, Pastor Tim, and Pastor Heather