My sister’s birthday is at the end of November. Every year my aunts would gift her with a Hallmark Keepsake ornament. By the time she moved off to college, she had at least one for every year of her life and was thus the largest ornament owner in the Bingham household of Pax Hill Rd.
Every year, the Christmas tree went up on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. We were each allowed to adorn the tree with “our” ornaments. I was always jealous of my older sister because she had so many more decorations to put on the tree than I did. Not only did she own more ornaments, but all of hers were professionally crafted by Hallmark! Mine were mostly home-made, well-meaning-but-not-excellently-executed crafts: aka lots of glitter and popsicle sticks. Our family tree was always an amalgamation of novelty-store-purchased treasures and recycled toilet paper rolls, painted to bedazzle by yours truly.
Psalm 121 is not typically the Scripture many people call to mind during the season of Advent and Christmas preparation, but this year it has been heavy on my heart and a great source of comfort and joy.
This psalm proclaims the assurance of God’s protection over God’s people. It is a psalm of ascents, recited by those on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land as they journeyed up the mountain of Jerusalem to celebrate holy festivals. In this psalm we hear the word “keep” repeated over and over:
He who keeps you will not slumber (3);
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (4);
The Lord is your keeper (5);
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life (7);
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore (8).
Emphasis is placed on God the Keeper. We then are the subject of God’s keeping. We are “kept.” We are the keepsake.
This Christmas I hope you will delight in the joy of this generous season and delight in reading Psalm 121. I hope you will remember you are called and claimed by the God of the universe who keeps and treasures you. All children of God are precious in God’s sight, of infinite value and worth.
Too often our joy in the holidays can be muted by the silencing voices of competition: who got the best gift?; how much money did they spend on me?; whose decorations are most impressive?; who has the most ornaments?
As you read and pray Psalm 121, I hope you will see yourselves as the treasured keepsake God created. Regardless of who you are, the color of your skin, where you were born, where you work, what language you speak, or what tax bracket (or new tax bracket) you locate yourself in, YOU ARE LOVED.
May each of you feel the warmth and love of the holiday season and keep on the Sunny Side of Life.