It was the Christmas season of 1987 when I feared Dad had lost his ever-lovin mind.
He had, but in a good way, if you know what I mean ‘cause minds are rather over-stated.
Our subdivision’s rules for outdoor Christmas light displays troubled him big time. I braced myself for an adventure of biblical proportions.
Confession: I exaggerate.
He’d heard a sermon about Jesus bein the Light who lives in us, so his regenerated mind got to thinkin. (the previous year he’d been an ungenerate but became brand new in Jesus.)
Dad announced in his important better-take-me seriously voice after Thanksgiving dinner:
“Christmas is not about electricity and who can impress who. It’s about how WE can shine our light in this dark cruel world. I’ve had enough of this craziness.
This year we will have no electric light display. Instead each night we will turn out all our lights except for five lit candles as we worship and pray on our front porch. One for each of us and one for Jesus. We’ll invite our neighbors with a flyer at their door, asking for prayer requests and welcome them to join us anytime from 7 to 9 PM every night until Christmas.
For each person who joins us, we will light another candle to remind ourselves that Jesus’s light lives within each of us who follow Him. God moves in a mighty way when we obey Him. ”
My sister and I rolled our eyes in our mind ‘cause we knew if Dad saw it, we’d get that look. I was thinkin, sometimes it’s hard to have a Dad that actually listens to sermons.
He gets all into it and then does this turnabout change always involvin us. I was anticipatin the mockin I’d get at school for this. But with Dad once his mind’s made up, even barbeque chicken won’t change it. He’s into Jesus and barbeque in that order.
Dad told us pass out the flyers, and my sis and me waited till no cars were in the driveway, leavin the flyer on their door and then runnin for our lives. I don’t know why, since our names were on it, but I just hated goin against the current, and this was a nutty idea in my humble opinion, which sometimes had some pride mixed in.
Of course no one came the first week of December, but we had some curious onlookers seeing if we really meant it. They were acting suspicious and weird as if a family prayin together was strange, even though most of them go to some kinda church. That baffled me. Still does.
Our first real guest was little Jimmy, the seven year old next door. He shyly walked towards us, head down, with a long, sad look as if he’d just lost his dog, Pedro. Turns out his dad had been outa work for a few weeks, and there was a lot of yellin in the house and he was scared.
My dad threw his arms around him to tell him how much Jesus loves him and we would be pray right then and there for his family. Mom lit another candle. It amazed me how much brighter the light became. Jimmy finally relaxed and sang with us, and asked if he could come the next night with his mom and his best friend. That was just the beginning.
If you are guessin the outcome, you’re right on. Each night it grew. Mr. Anders came to ask for prayer for his elderly mom who had broken her hip. Shelley Meyers, the neighborhood busybody, came one night to see what was goin on and ended up spewing out her horrible news that she had breast cancer. We all laid hands on her and prayed for healing and peace. It was cool. We were up to fifteen candles by then, so I ate some crow.
Somethin wonderful was happenin right in our midst. Not just the night times but in the day, people were noticin each other and bakin pies and callin and checkin on the ones that had the most troubles.
I looked at Dad different after that Christmas season. Maybe weird ideas are the best kind. At least my dad’s turned out to be.
The lights within us seemed to be brighter after that as if our whole little corner of planet earth was on fire. From then on our Christmas happened on our front porch.
And our new friends became family.
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