Dear Reader: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
If you are curious as to what happened last night with the Christmas Eve story… Well….it is quite a story. Do you remember the scene in the Christmas movie, Love Actually, where the young man, smitten with his best friend’s new bride, shows up with cards to tell her how he feels?
My throat just couldn’t “croak” out the introduction for Carrie Simpson, my adorable niece who told the story last night….so I held up cards to explain the situation and then turned the rest of the story over to Carrie…..
Dorothy, our Associate Pastor, read the cards which explained what happened with as much humor thrown in as possible while I made the appropriate faces.
Does anyone happen to notice Miss Eva Cate ( my four year old granddaughter in the skit?) Apparently when I put her down (off my lap) to go up for the presentation…she followed me and picked up the last long card I had made wishing everyone a Merry Christmas…the skit ended up with one frog voice, Dorothy’s beautiful voice…and Eva Cate’s little childish one… wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
For the first time in over twenty-something years I was sitting in the congregation listening to a story I wrote that Carrie told more beautifully than words can express. She is a natural and made me so proud!
“Plan B’ afforded me the opportunity to view the Christmas Eve Service from a different perspective and different perspectives always allow us to grow in understanding.
Carrie…I can not thank you enough for pitching in at the 11th hour. What a jewel of a storyteller shone last night! All diamonds!
My hope is one day, somewhere, a child will sit on a parent or grandparent’s lap on Christmas Eve and listen to the story. If that ever happens…I will feel such a sense of fulfillment…my gift to others.
My gift today is a copy of the story for you to (hopefully) enjoy and re-tell again…surrounded by lots of palmetto rose crosses.
Before we start the story, however,….let me tell you how the idea was born that developed into the story….in other words…’the story behind the story.’
About a year ago I had gone to Fran Townsend’s home to purchase some palmetto roses for a bouquet I was working on. Palmetto roses are made by the sea grass weavers who also make the more famous sea baskets. Twice a year Fran invites the ladies to set up on her property and sell their wares.
As I was going through one pile of individual roses…suddenly one looked different…the rose looked like it was on a cross. As I stared at it…one of the basket weavers casually commented: “That is a palmetto rose cross.”
“I love it….do you have more and could you tell me why the rose is on a cross? I asked.
The woman shook her head… but then called to another weaver…a family niece… and asked her to tell me what she knew.
She motioned me over and said quietly that her grandmother was named Rose and she always wore rose talcum powder because she said… that was the smell of Jesus.
She thought a minute and then said that all she knew about the crosses was what her grandmother had once muttered….“That rose was there when ‘dat poor baby Jesus was born and it was there for Him (on the cross) the day He died.”
My imagination had been captured…suddenly I could picture a rose growing in a stable and another rose around Christ’s head on the cross and the scent of Christ being that of a rose…I wanted more of the story.
But there was no more. That was all the niece knew and none of the other weavers had anything to add….
So I had a beginning and an ending…but no ‘middle’ to this story. If it was to be told…I would need to write it.
“The Legend of the Palmetto Rose Cross”
On the night that Christ, the Son of God, was born in the manger in Bethlehem something MAGICAL happened! Amidst the excitement of the Divine Birth…another miracle was taking place…that almost went undiscovered…a gift from a proud Father to His Son.
The Christmas Star was shining its bright light that Holy Night and one special beam found itself into a dark corner of the manger. Before morning a tiny green shoot could be seen breaking through the hay. Before day’s end the stem had grown and a tiny rose bud was emerging.
By the time Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus were ready to depart…the rose was shining in all its beauty…but still unnoticed in the dingy corner of the manger.
It was Mary, giving one last glance around, who spotted the beautiful rose. Delighted she had Joseph pull the plant to take with them. The aroma from the rose was so intoxicating that Baby Jesus kept grabbing it and pulling the rose to him on the long journey home. (Back then roses did not have thorns so Mary didn’t have to worry about the infant pricking Himself with it.)
As Jesus grew…the rose bush grew too and then one year it began to multiply…so that by the time of His ministry rose bushes had begun springing up miraculously wherever He walked…filling the air with the most wonderful fragrance.
Three years later…on that terrible day when Jesus was crucified, the skies, once again grew dark. From this darkness one beautiful bright star could be seen shining its light down on Christ upon the cross. Suddenly a green sprout and then a stem emerged from the dirt below the cross. A rose appeared and began climbing , as fast as it could, upward to Jesus.
When the rose reached the place where Christ’s face fell on His chest, drawn in pain, it wrapped itself around Him and then settled in among the crown of thorns that had had been placed on His head. The rose wanted to buffer the pain from the thorns placed there in ridicule. The rose wanted to comfort Jesus in His greatest need.
Legend says that Jesus suddenly felt the soft cushion of the rose around His head and then smelled the familiar fragrance from His childhood. He immediately understood. It was a gift from His Father awaiting Him in Heaven. It had been sent on the Day of his birth and now would be present on the day of His death.
The legend concludes that this is the reason roses, today, have thorns attached…dating back to that fateful day of the crucifixion. If anyone is ever pricked by a rose thorn …it is a reminder of Christ’s blood shed for us.
Palmetto rose crosses continue to be hand-woven in many lowcountry areas of South Carolina. They are a symbol of the gift God gave His Son in a time of light and a time of darkness…in a time of rejoicing and a time of sorrow.
Woven together, using only special grass from the marshes, the rose cross reminds us today of the time Jesus spent by the Sea of Galilee…and how His birth, life, and death…changed history.
I hope you enjoyed your gift….Merry Christmas One and All!
So until tomorrow….Thank you Father for your greatest gift to us today…Your Son and, also for us “be-sogged” lowcountry residents, Your Sun!
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
There is another special Christmas mystery happening on a daily basis and I have no clue who the “elf” or “elves” are behind it. Monday night, after calling Carrie, to give her a ‘heads-up’ that I was definitely going to need some help with the Christmas Eve story….I was a little down.
I was relieved at Carrie’s generosity and also saddened that this was the first Christmas Eve I would not be able to tell the Christmas Eve story in over two decades.
I had been so sure the laryngitis would clear up enough for me to tell the story or at least verbally introduce it and tell the ‘story behind the story’ before turning it over to Carrie!
I went to check on any emails that might need answering…and the page was filled with the names of Summerville residents, some I recognized, some I didn’t…wanting to ‘Be Friends” with me on Facebook.
I spent almost an hour responding to them….”What is going on?” I thought puzzled. But it sure did put a smile on my face and arrived at the perfect time.
Since then….I have received daily… more “I Want To Be Friends” requests. Something is going on….there is an elf out there somewhere organizing this “movement” I am sure….but Who and Why?
If anybody knows anything about my “miracle” at Christmas…the storyteller in me sure would love to know the story behind this wonderful Christmas present.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Merry Christmas!
* This cough and laryngitis has really tired me out….I have a few pictures of Tommy and Kaitlyn and the Turners….but I kept forgetting where I put my camera….it was a small group, relaxed, and wonderful. A perfect way to end Christmas Eve.
I was thrilled that Kaitlyn spent Christmas Eve with us before heading to Tennessee…it made the evening complete and the gift she and Tommy gave me was so unique and thoughtful. I am pointing to it in the last picture.
Kaitlyn has a jeweler friend who does all kinds of creative things with jewelry. She engraved the co-ordinates to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope on a copper bracelet with the message:
Now I will always know how to get there…
We sure missed Walsh, Mollie, and Rutledge this Christmas but I know they are having a ball! Rutledge even sent greetings yesterday!