“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the LORD. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”Luke 2:8-14
Christmas has always been a special time at the Cullen house. We love to decorate. Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, there wasn’t a chimney on which to hang the stockings with care, so we used the knobs of the stereo cabinet. The Nativity Scene was always the first item to be put out, and we all wanted the honor of setting it up. Then we would decorate the tree. Dad would always put the star or angel on the top of the tree last.
My wife’s family also had special decorating traditions. When Deb was born in Pennsylvania, her mother went on a hunt for an angel with brown hair and brown eyes. Since most angles have blond hair and blue eyes, it was no easy feat, but she wanted an angel that looked like Debe, her little girl with beautiful brown hair and warm brown eyes.
When we married in 1997, Deb’s mom gave her the angel for the top of the tree in our home. It is a staple in our home around Christmas time. When our son, Jake, was little, we called it the mommy angel, but he’s too cool for that now.
I love the decorations on our tree, many of which are from our families of origin. However, over the years, Deb and I have added decorations from all of the places we have traveled. It has become a tradition to buy a Christmas ornament in every town we visit.
However, the most special Christmas tree adornment to me is the beautiful brown-eyed angel, which reminds me of all of the ways God communicated to man through the voices of the angels.The angel on top of the tree causes me to reflect on the angel who visited Zechariah to let him know his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son. I think about the angel who visited a young virgin and told her she would give birth to the Messiah, and I remember the angel who visited Joseph and told him the way he should go. I love the story of the host of angels who told the shepherds of the Savior’s birth and the story of the angel who warned the wise men to go home by another way.
It would have been startling to have a visit from one angel, let alone a host. But God gave specific messages to his people through the angels. Just like the angel on top of our tree tells the story of my wife’s birth, so the angels told the story of our Christmas King. What a great symbol and reminder to have on top of our Christmas tree!
What is your favorite Christmas song?
“12 days of Christmas” (straight…no chaser rendition)
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
What is your favorite Christmas dish or drink?
Oriental rice casserole
Pastoral Care Associate
John ministers to those who are hurting, either through illness or loss. He is passionate about helping men, women, and couples work through life’s issues, and ultimately leading the lost to Christ. John and his wife, Debe, have one son, Jake.