Advent Devotional 24

December 24 - Pickles & Secrets

Decades ago, my grandmother Sanders(Granny) was given a delicious Christmas pickle recipe by her mother(Bytie).  The recipe involved slicing whole pickles, icing them, and then soaking them for a precise number of days in a concoction of sugar and three other ingredients.  When cooled, they have a wonderfully unique taste.  Bytie made Granny swear she would not tell anyone the secret recipe until she was in her later years.

Twenty years ago, Granny passed the secret recipe for Christmas pickles to my mother.  Of course, she made my mother swear she would not reveal the ingredients until she was much older or near death.  For unknown reasons, my mother passed the secret recipe on to me about fifteen years ago.

Now every Advent I make and bottle about a hundred bottles of Christmas pickles to give as gifts.  I’d tell you the recipe if I could.  But I can’t.  It’s a secret!

More than loving the making of the Christmas pickles, I love to gift them to others.  In a time when so many gifts are made by large companies, I take great delight in gifting people with something I have actually touched and nurtured.  I pray the Christmas pickles bless them.  I know I’m blessed in the giving.

The other day, I realized an odd connection that exists between the secret recipe and Jesus’ birth.  The recipe for the Sanders’ Christmas pickles is well-guarded and not to be shared.

The birth of Jesus was anything but secret.  God, it seems, wanted this good news to be known far and wide.  Heavenly visitors told the news to both Mary and Joseph.  Somehow even King Herod knew of this birth.  Angels informed shepherds of the birth.  These shepherds then left the manger and shared the good news.  Even a star communicated the good news of the birth of Messiah to three curious magi.

The birth of Christ was no secret.  Unlike my family’s secret pickle recipe, the One who is “God with us” is meant to be shared with all.  Jesus and his grace are meant to be proclaimed to all.  God has come in human flesh to reveal to us all the amazing extent of God’s great love for humankind.  I love how it is stated in Matthew 1:21 “You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  God desires that we be saved, that we be made whole.  That is no secret!

This Christmas Eve, I invite you to make sure the good news of the incarnation is not kept a secret.  People in Dothan desperately need to hear of a God who cares for them enough to be born and live in the midst of our human condition.

The truth is, Christmas is a time when people are especially open to hearing the gospel and receiving invitations to church.  Might God be calling you to invite someone you know to join you at one of our four Christmas Eve worship experiences later today?

Those are:

Experience Bethlehem
(Interactive & Specially Suited for Families)
Beginning at 2:30 in the Fellowship Hall

“Come and Go” Communion
5:00 – 6:00 in the Chapel

Candlelight Communion Services
4:00 and 5:30 in the Sanctuary

“Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere:
go tell it on the mountain, that  Jesus Christ is born”

Christmas is no secret!

Merry Christmas,

Jim Sanders

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Love that picture of Christmas pickles! And the family tradition!
    Merry Christmas, Jim and Sally! You are a blessing to me!

  2. And yet so many similarities to the secret: shared in great love, strong family tie, not the normal pickle but unique to Sanders family, and most especially to be shared with lots of love accompanying the gift of a bottle, your responsibility and pleasure to share the family secret with the next generation and theirs later. The chain of love goes on and on in different locations. It seems very close to the Christmas story filled with love shared for many. It is such a gift you received from your mom to share with your children.
    Merry Christmas to you all.
    Rosalyn Timbie

  3. Would love to taste one!! Love family traditions being passed down in families. Marbury and I made Howell ambrosia from my Mother and Dadde’s recipe each Christmas. It’s feels like they are still with us. Have a blessed Christmas Jim and Sally and family. We love you.

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