Broken ballerina

Pastoral Messages | December 21, 2016

My family moved from Colorado to Wisconsin just weeks before my sophomore year of high school. I eventually made some really wonderful friends, but the first months were very lonely. On Christmas morning that first Wisconsin winter, my dad gave me an intricate and slender ceramic ballerina Christmas ornament. It was gift thanking me for “being so graceful, even during a really hard few months.”  It was simple gift, encouraging and full of such love. I got up to give my beloved dad a hug. But as I stood up, somehow I dropped my beautiful ballerina ornament, breaking her head right off. Maybe not quite so very graceful, after all.

broken_ballerinaThe story has been retold among my family nearly as many times as I’ve attempted to glue the ornament back together. So now I just place the pieces of that ballerina on a little bed of tissue paper on a flat branch of our tree. I get wistful seeing her, missing my late father. Sparkling lights shine on that broken ornament, as it lies next to a silly looking angel my daughter made with dried pasta and ornaments collected over the decades.

I could spend hours looking at our Christmas tree. There’s a story hanging on every one of those branches. And there’s a whole lot of joy there. But there’s also room on that tree for my little broken ballerina; room for my own grief among the delight. Somehow it all fits together, maybe it makes that tree even more beautiful.

It’s true for us this Christmas season. There’s room to feel both delight and sorrow, joy and heartbreak. For many who step into this holiday season with grief over all kinds of loss, the delight and wonder of this season might feel completely dissonant. But the angels came to the shepherds on that first Christmas night, not only saying a dazzling “glory to God!” but also a comforting “do not be afraid, a child is born for you.” We worship a Savior born in a humble stable, surrounded by both poor shepherds and wealthy wise men. If there’s room for both the sparkle of gold and the smell of sheep, there’s room for all that we bring to worship, too.

On Christmas Eve, we’ll sing about fields and flood, rocks, hills and plains repeating the song of joy and shepherds prolonging their joyous strains, inspired by that heavenly song. We’ll also sing about how the hopes and fears of all our years are met in Jesus, who is love’s pure light, brings the dawn of grace into the darkness of our lives. There’s room for all of us, with all the complex and contradictory things that we carry, around the Christ Child.

After all, this season isn’t really about perfectly glittering trees or people – it’s about God being born right into the fullness of human life, with all our joys and sorrows, worries and hopes. The gift of love that we know as Jesus is why we sing, smiling with tears in our eyes.

Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

10 Comments on “Broken ballerina”

  • Darla DeVriendt

    December 25, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Pastor Sara,
    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring message! Merry Christmas!

  • Gary Maiden

    December 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    On target, as always. Thank you Pastor Sara, and Merry Christmas.

  • Cathy Crampton

    December 23, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Thank you for this touching message, and sharing your story .

  • Jana Baltimore

    December 23, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Beautiful reflection on God’s love amid our own “broken-ness”.
    As I reflect on your message I am thinking of people who will also be missing a loved one this Christmas for the first time. I pray that they can experience a joy and peace of God’s love during this time that is filled with so many memories of Christmas’s past.

  • David DeWit

    December 22, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    One can’t help shedding a few tears when we realize that those who made the happy memories for us are gone. Christmas is always a bittersweet time for some of us. Great thoughts: Thanks, Sara!

  • Bonnie Heydeman

    December 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    For me this time of year is very difficult as I remember my dad’s passing so close to Christmas and my mom following only eight weeks after. Having a December birthday makes it more difficult. It’s hard to celebrate sometimes but your message brings me some comfort and reminds me that amidst the chaos of my grief there is much joy in the memories.

  • Deb Lamp

    December 22, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Pastor Sara, what a beautiful reminder of what is so important to us. It is a difficult time for some of us but we are overjoyed that not only we celebrate the birth of Jesus we will soon be moving back into our house. Special time of year.

  • Deb Lamp

    December 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Pastor Sara, what a beautiful reminder of what is so important to us. It is hard this year yet exciting as we wait to get in our ” new” house. It will not be Long now.
    Thank you

  • Priscilla Hull

    December 22, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Lovely…thank you.

  • Vicki Felger

    December 22, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Pastor Sara, thank you so much for this beautiful, heartfelt message.

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”