When I was a kid, time seemed to stand still, especially in the weeks before Christmas. I remember asking my mother, “How many days ‘til Christmas?”
Her patient reply to her 6-year-old reassured me that Christmas would indeed come someday soon. We didn’t start decorating for Christmas at our house until the middle of December. But I could see the signs of Christmas long before it actually arrived. Mama would start getting out the boxes of ornaments and the strings of colored lights — the big ones, not the tiny ones like we have now — and I knew that Christmas was coming.
Gifts arrived by mail from cousins and aunts and uncles whom we only saw a couple of times a year. Christmas cards began to pile up in the living room as friends and relatives near and far sent greetings of Christmas. Some cards contained Christmas letters, catching us up on the lives of families we seldom saw, but cared about deeply.
Another sign of Christmas coming appeared at the church. Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia was a working-class church. I remember firemen, mechanics, store owners, factory workers, and truck drivers who made up most of the membership. These men dressed up in suits on Sunday morning, filing in to sit on the front pew, as the deacons did back in those days in Georgia. At Christmas, the old sanctuary came alive with color. Now, this was long before Baptists ever heard of an advent wreath or liturgical colors. No, the sanctuary brimmed with poinsettias, Christmas garland, some candles, and Christmas lights. Always prominently displayed was the Lottie Moon Foreign Mission Offering board. Big white lights were lit for each $100 given toward our goal of $2,000 — a big sum for working folks to give.
Of course, the Christmas that all the red and green gave way to purple and gold was one to remember. Seems that the son of one of our members, who owned a flower shop in Atlanta, volunteered to decorate the church. Instead of pine garlands that year, we had lemon trees with silver and gold ribbons. Instead of red-and-green, the colors were lime, purple, and gold. As you can imagine, that caused quite a stir at Eastern Heights Baptist Church. The next year we were back to our traditional décor.
All of those signs told a little boy that Christmas was coming. So I waited, and Christmas did come. Just like the world waited 2,000 years ago, not knowing what to expect, not knowing what to hope for, but seeing the signs. This year, as you wait for Christmas, watch for the signs of His coming. That was always my favorite part of Christmas.