Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Selah

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

I hope you have a very Merry Wabi Sabi Christmas.
And it's not a new kind of sushi.

My precious friend Denise and I were talking the other day amidst the rush of holiday preparation and parties and events. I was telling her that for an upcoming speaking event, I really wanted to focus on encouraging people that there's no such thing as the 'perfect' Christmas or holiday dinner or decor. Denise showed me a beautiful platter she had purchased some years ago. It is oblong in shape and is a cream color with a small imprint in the center of a tiny fork, spoon and knife.

But the shape of the platter isn't perfectly oblong. It's a little off.

And the edges of the platter aren't perfectly beveled. They're a little wobbly.

Denise said when she first spied this piece in the little gift shop, it had a plaque next to it with a Japanese character on it. And an explanation was given on the plaque that this unique platter was an example of the Japanese concept of 'wabi sabi'.

Wabi sabi is that idea that there is beauty to be found in imperfection, that things on this earth are always in transition, that it is the very incompleteness that allows us an opportunity to see beauty.

I asked my children the other day what their favorite Christmas memory was. Without hesitation, they identified it.

It wasn't the year the Wii was under the tree.

It wasn't the year the holiday dinner went off without a hitch.

It was Christmas 2007. A specific day in 2007.

We had traveled to Oklahoma. That year, December had brought a horrific ice storm to the Tulsa area. People had been without power or heat for days. Majestic old trees had crashed to the ground under the weight of the ice. Schools had been closed, outdoor Christmas decor destroyed. We arrived to find some very tired, cold, weary friends and family.

When we are in Oklahoma to celebrate the season with extended family, we spend a few days with Mike's side and then a few days with mine. We have a 'Christmas' night with one set of grandparents and then the other set. It was during one of those nights that the skies opened yet again and it began to snow. And then sleet. And then ice.

We scurried to finish up our celebrations, anxious to safely get back on the road to our various lodgings. But as one of my brothers tentatively made his way down the driveway to the car and ended up crashing to the pavement because of a thickening layer of ice, it became obvious that it would be too dangerous to get on the road. We were officially iced in.

All of us. And we are a big group.

Pallets were laid out, beach towels used as blankets. Couch cushions were dispensed as pillows. The ice continued to pelt the windows and the grown-ups grumped around and cat-napped in small snatches of sleep.

And that is my children's favorite Christmas memory.

Because it was a huge slumber party. We were all together. It was the first time 6 of 8 and the twins had seen snow. Because we used beach towels for blankets. Because they slept in front of the fireplace.

Because it was imperfect.

Because it was about the true beauty of the season, being all together, making do.

God didn't send His Son into perfect conditions.  It wasn't perfect to have Mary travel at nine months of pregnancy back to Bethlehem.  It wasn't perfect to be turned away from more comfortable lodgings to be relegated to a stable.  It wasn't perfect that Jesus wasn't born into a royal family at the height of Israel's power.

Which is exactly what brings tremendous beauty to the Christmas Story.

The true perfection of Christ mixed with the falleness of this world.  The imperfect shape of our hearts melded into the grace of His.  The story of a baby born into imperfect times to an imperfect people to become the only truly perfect sacrifice.

And so to really celebrate the Christmas season, it must be done with an embracing of the imperfection of all our efforts and expectations.

Therein lies the beauty of grace.

I wish you a very Merry Wabi Sabi Christmas.


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