Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Small World Christmas

It's Christmas time at Disneyland... and for the first time in 3 years, we aren't there. (This would be the appropriate time to say "thanks" to my Imagineering buddy for getting us in last year & to Klutz Publishing for making me a consultant the year before that paid for most of our trip... and to the folks @ NewLife, who are incredibly generous about vacation time for myself & the rest of the staff.)

One of the added bonuses of homeschooling our kids (in tandem with me pastoring a church) is the flexibility it allows us in taking vacations - we're not restricted to weekends, holidays & summer. In fact, weekends are pretty much out (seems the good people of NewLife Community would like me to show up on Sunday mornings & talk to 'em!). So, we go to Disneyland during the week while public school is still in session between Thanksgiving & Christmas.. meaning the crowds are low, the park is decorated beautifully & there are fireworks every night.

I really do have a spiritual point to this... hang on a minute.

The first time we went (back in 2003 - Braeden was only 2 years old!), we had a number of wonderful experiences:
  • taking pictures of Braeden & Shari riding Dumbo from the elephant in front of them - which is almost a perfect echo of a picture my dad took of my mom & me 40 years ago
  • riding Heimlich's Chew Chew Train enough times that we memorized all the dialogue... (btw, one of the downsides of low crowds - if your kid likes a ride, you're going to get to see a lot of it)
  • Braeden getting his picture taken with Mickey... and as he left, turning around & running back to hug him and tell him, "I love you, Mickey."
But the particular memory I want to focus on is standing in line for It's A Small World right around dusk. They turn off all the surrounding lights... there's some dramatic music... and then the colored lights come on all at once. There's an almost collective gasp/intake of breath at the beauty of the moment... and then people erupt into spontaneous cheers. (I've seen this a number of times now - in fact, we try to time it so that we're near Small World around dusk if we can - and it's the same response every time.)

That moment awe & wonder, that childlike delight in the lights & the music & the "magic" of Disneyland - frankly, that's just a taste of what we're meant to enjoy when we realize the meaning of the Christmas celebration. We are kneeling (physically or metaphorically) at the feet of a baby who is fully man & fully God, who will - in a short 33 years - give Himself up on the cross in order to pay for all the cruddy, evil, horrible things we've done. We are in the presence of God - it's worth a gasp of breath & an eruption of cheering & praise.

I love to turn the lights on our Christmas tree... particularly when it's dark in the living room. It reminds me - just a bit - of the amazing show Disneyland puts on each night through the holidays. I want to challenge myself (and you, by extension) to be reminded each time you see the lights wink on & the room fill with color to remember the amazing grace of God that He showed so clearly through the birth of Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. If you'd like to read more about Disneyland at Christmas, you can check out my Disney-related posts on my blog:

It's a small world... at Christmas

Picture originally uploaded by

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