OPEN THE WINDOW PHYLLIS!
Before the advent of television, baseball broadcasts depended on colorful announcers to captivate a listening audience. One of the best of these announcers was named Rosey Rowswell. Rowswell was the radio voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kirk will appreciate this.
The star slugger with the Pirates at the time was Ralph Kiner. Rowswell got his audience to imagine a little old lady with an apartment window facing Forbes Field. Whenever Ralph Kiner would connect with a potential home run, Rowswell would yell, “Open the window, Aunt Minnie, here it comes!” Then, as the ball left the park, he would smash a light bulb near the microphone.
Rosey Rowswell knew how to create excitement.
I have always thought we ought to enter Advent with the same level of excitement that we had when we were expecting our own children and grandchildren. Therefore, it has never made sense to me that Advent hymns are the slowest and most mournful songs in the hymnbook. The whole world is singing Fa- la—la and the church is dragging tempos and singing dirges. Which seems rather backwards to me. And so, this Advent, as every Advent, I want to shout with great enthusiasm, “Open the window, Phyllis, because here comes Christmas!”
I want my church and my home to be festive, reflecting the joy and anticipation in my heart. I want my eyes to go wide as I revel in the wonders of the birth of Jesus Christ. I want to hear the angels sing “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” once again, (knowing full well they might say something else if they ever read some of the stuff on Facebook.) I want to be like the Wise men and return home another way, with a full heart and a sense of wonder.
We had such a great Thanksgiving this past week. I had decorated the house for Christmas, except for the kitchen and dining room. My Granddaughter Camryn is 4 years old, the perfect age for Christmas and when she came in the door, and she saw those decorations, her eyes began to sparkle. She smiled so wide her whole body shuddered with delight at the sight of Christmas lights and Christmas trees. I will never forget how she reached out so lovingly to hold the baby in the manger in one of our Christmas nativities. “This is Baby Jesus!” She said with a sweet smile on her face, and love in her eyes and then she let out a small sigh. As she ate her dinner, her eyes never veered off the Christmas lights in the other rooms.
Wouldn’t it be great if each of us could be like Camryn this Christmas: full of hope, full of love and full of joy? Of course, there are several reasons why that may not happen. First, we have so much stuff to do, so many presents to buy and wrap, Christmas cards to get ready, cookies to bake, decorations to dust-off, hang or replace, dinners to plan, that Christmas preparation ends up becoming less exciting than it is stressful and exhausting. Secondly, Christmas revolves around families. So, if you are single and alone, or if a family member is sick or not present, Christmas can bring on depression and sorrow.
So, what can we who, as the hymn says, “trudge beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,” what can we take from Christmas? Probably the best thing we can do is to fuss less and enjoy the light more. Take a moment to ponder John 1: 5:” the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.” In the midst of all our toil and troubles, no matter if we are sad, arthritic, missing a loved one, overworked and under slept, if we just sit quiet for just a little bit, we will see that the light is still shining in the darkness, and the angels still sing “Peace on the Earth, goodwill to men”. Christmas is hope, warm and sparkling, a shining light in the cold and darkness of winter
For Camryn, Christmas is all about shiny things and the baby, which isn’t half bad theology for a 4 year old. . But for us old folks, it’s about hope: hope for a better year, hope for a better life, hope for a better world because “Emanuel”, God is with us, no matter what comes! Now that is something worth shouting about: “Open the window, Phyllis, Christmas is coming!”
Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year