Saturday evening Debbie and I were enjoying the company of my life long buddy, Tom Naumoff, and his family. Our home served as halfway point on their yearly Christmas journey to the Florida Keys and I had anticipated his stay for some time. We were sharing homemade chicken soup and engrossed in a theological discussion related to the revelatory topic of how God talks to us when the doorbell rang. I sprang up and groused, "What now...I don't want to be interrupted."
At first, it appeared as if there was nobody at the front door. Maybe it was a prank. Then I noticed a red velvety sleeve with a furry white cuff and a white glove close to the door handle. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to encounter Santa Claus, in person, smiling an elf-like smile and greeting me with "how are you?!!"
Imagine my surprise!!!
Surprise and Christmas go together like a hand in a glove. When you read Luke's story of the birth of Jesus, surprise is the order of the day. Barren Elizabeth is told she will bear a son named John. Virgin Mary is told that she will be Mater Dei-the Mother of God. Angels bring to lowly shepherds keeping watch over their flocks "good news of great joy that will be for all people."
In Luke, each of these encounters with angels is met with fear and the angels saying "Fear not." Typically surprise is accompanied with a combined sense of relief and amazement.
When I welcomed Santa into my house on Saturday evening and introduced him to my guests I was delighted to watch the surprised expressions on their faces and their nervous laughter. They anxiously awaited an explanation. Surprise always searches for meaning. Santa's visit was lovingly simple. You see, he had visited in our neighborhood for many years blessing our young children with the gift of surprise. He was in the neighborhood to visit the newest crop of children and wanted to see how our children had grown up. This was the perfect Christmas gift I didn't even know my tired ole soul needed. Surprise!
May joyful surprise come visiting you this Christmas season!
Prayer for Today
God of wonder, God of grace, surprise us this week with the gift of glad tidings and great joy as we celebrate the birth of your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.