HomeCommunity NewsFinding New Hope in an Old Story

Finding New Hope in an Old Story

First published in the Dec. 16 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

By Rev. Jessica Vaughan Lower
Special to the Tribune

Nearly every family who celebrates the Christmas season has cherished traditions this time of year.
Some of them revolve around food, some of them include going to the Nutcracker, and nearly all of them include decorating.
We have traditions like this in our family, too, including a tradition to methodically work through every Christmas movie we have time to watch between the Friday following Thanksgiving and Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.
Everyone in our family has a different favorite movie, sometimes a different favorite depending on the year. Our Christmas movie staples include “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and — of course — “A Christmas Story.” As a result, we can quote dozens of lines from various Christmas movies at random moments throughout the holiday season. All of us can repeat the plots of these movies in our sleep.

But every now and then, as we watch a Christmas movie that we have seen multiple times before, something will strike us in a different way, making us see something new. Perhaps we catch an expression in a character’s face that we had never noticed before. Or maybe a certain line rings differently given whatever we have been dealing with that particular day. As we watch a story that we know nearly by heart, every now and then, we will identify something in that old story that feels refreshing and thought provoking.
It’s something that is true about the story of that first Christmas Day as well. It’s a plot that many of us can recall in our sleep — it’s hard to imagine that there could be anything surprising or new to be found in it. And yet, every now and then, we come across something in the story that hits us in a different way, that offers us a new and unexpected comfort, or that troubles us in a good kind of way — disrupting how we think about ourselves or think about the world with a perspective of new justice, new hope, new peace, and new joy.
For many of us, this Christmas feels like a return to something familiar after a year of disruption. More of the usual chairs are gathered around the table. There are the parties like those we have attended before, the return of events we have always loved, more of what has always been comfortable and predictable.
But maybe not everything needs to return to what is comfortable and predictable. If we take time to reflect, perhaps there is something in our story of Christmas this year that can speak something new to our souls and can offer us refreshment.
So, this year, as you hear the Christmas story, maybe even choosing to read it for yourself in the Bible, what is new in your story with God that you haven’t heard before this year? Is there something refreshing for you to find in the birth of the Christ-child this Christmas?

Vaughn Lower is head pastor at the San Marino Community Church.


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