Posted: December 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

It was a chilly morning in a small town…my hometown, Owasso, Oklahoma. It was a big day, people were sitting and standing along Main Street for the annual Christmas parade. They were huddled with fuzzy blankets and thermoses full of hot cocoa.
It was a big deal in a small town!
The high school marching band was there, playing “jingle bells” over and over again. The homecoming queen was clutching a bouquet of wilting roses and waving from the back of a red convertible. the rotary club had a float, so did the Future Farmers of America.
It was a big day in a small town.
And in the middle of all the excitement, there was a horde of first graders, dressed as Christmas presents.
I was one of those gifts!
We were wearing oversized cardboard boxes with strategically placed arm and head holes. My amazing Mom had wrapped the box in shiny, brightly colored foil gift wrap. I had a big bow on top of my buzz cut.
My prepackaged peers and I were supposed to throw candy to the crowd and sing Christmas carols.
Because we were overexcited first graders wearing cardboard boxes, I’m sure it looked like a robotic celebration of awkwardness.
We proudly marched down Main Street past the library, past Soc’s drug store, past the First Bank of Owasso (at the time it was the only bank), toward the finish line of Well’s grocery store. As we stumbled along we scanned the crowd looking for our parents. Because of the box, we couldn’t actually bend our arms. I think that was intentional, that way we couldn’t eat the hard candy that we were supposed to hurl into the crowd.
I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to give the gift of me.
I didn’t realize the significance of that at the time, that sometimes the greatest gift you can give is simply yourself!
Christmas time is a good time to pause and remember. We reflect on what has changed and what hasn’t.
Some things change…
We outgrow our boxes.
Small towns change, they grow or fade away. Mine has exploded. I hardly recognize it now.
We change, we get older and hopefully a little wiser. We become the parents and grandparents on the sidelines, cheering on our kids as they awkwardly march through life.
Scenery changes, friends change.
BUT, some things never change…
The power of community.
The joy that a kid brings.
The fact that the greatest present is presence.
The simple message of Christmas…
2,000 years ago in a small town hope was born.
God wrapped Himself in humanity and gave us the present of His presence.
It was a big day in a small town.
Jesus brought the gifts of joy…hope…peace.
He offers us the greatest gift…
Life, new life, real life.
He can REgift us!
He invites us, ALL of His children of all ages, to be a part of the parade.
Jump on in and look for me, I will be awkwardly marching behind the band, eating more candy than I throw out.

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