by Pastor Mark
I was so happy on Wednesday afternoon to complete one project on my Christmas preparations to-do list. I installed a temporary sign in front of the church to advertise our upcoming services. The sign simply said,
Friday morning I received an urgent call from Linda Sheldon, “There’s a typo! The sign is spelled wrong!” As the Sheldons were leaving the church parking lot after bell choir rehearsal on Thursday night, Linda’s daughter Eva looked at the sign and immediately said, “Pageant is spelled wrong.”
I am so embarrassed. It appears that in the exchange of emails between me and the sign maker the word was ended up misspelled, but I signed off on the final mock-up that included the mistake. I then picked up the sign, reviewed it, and paid for it. I also spent time with the sign installing it and looking at it after it was up to make sure it looked okay. Never once did I notice the typo. My only consolation is that the sign was up for two days before anyone else pointed out the mistake–so perhaps I was not the only one to miss it.
It is not surprising that the mistake was first noticed by a teenager. Not only because her young eyes are most likely better than mine, but because her young sight is more open to seeing what is really there. It is a fact of life that as we get older we begin to see what we want to see. This is actually an important mental development as our minds quickly look for patterns as shortcuts to the perception and interpretation of information. But this shortcut can do more than make things easier, it can also lead us to miss the obvious.
Christmas, with its traditions and well-known stories, is a time that is ripe for mental autopilot. We think we already know what the story is all about and what the season will bring. So we stop looking for what may be new. Yet,at it’s heart, Christmas is about everything being made new. A little child born in a manger changes the world. This means that God’s spirit can remake us, and our world, as well. Our role in this story begins by opening our eyes to see the world anew. The appearance of the star did more than just open the eyes of the magi, it opened their minds and hearts to take a journey that changed their lives. May we greet Christmas with open eyes so that Christmas may open our hearts and minds to God’s perfect light.
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