JEFFERSON CITY — In what is quickly becoming a beloved Christmas tradition, Yuletide inflatable yard ornaments mysteriously appeared at the west-side home of Don and Bernadette Hinkle over the weekend.
A seemingly related incident occurred at Hinkle’s Pathway office at the Baptist Building on east High Street at approximately the same time.
Residents along the giant hill leading to the Hinkle estate reported a suspicious caravan of three vehicles that came through the neighborhood without their headlights early Monday morning.
The inflatables appeared sometime between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Monday.
Reports from the Midwest Regional Christmas Cheer Measurement and Tracking Bureau (MRCCMTB) already show a 35 percent increase in Christmas Cheer and Whimsy at the Hinkle household.
“It’s cute,” Bernadette told reporters.
In an exclusive communiqué sent anonymously to The Pathway, the Christmas ninjas ascribed theological meaning to each of the inflatables:
Reindeer surfing on Santa’s Woody Wagon
“Santa is a new generation of pastor driving the wagon,which represents the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR),” the statement read. “The reindeer on top is a portrait of state conventions working to stand up and thrive in the new era (and succeeding). As you can see in the photo, the reindeer is aided in his work by an official newsjournal.”
This inflatable illustrates the back-and-forth tug between righteousness and sin. In this case, sin is obviouslyrepresented by the two penguins and righteousness before the Lord is represented by the white-as-snow polar bear. The pivot point of the see-saw represents Jesus Christ. If we rely on Him, our lives can swing from sin and depravity to holiness and joy.
Camp Fire Scene
“The ‘Camp fire’ scene is comprised of reindeer and Santa roasting marshmallows. What is Santa? He is an overgrown elf who makes things… i.e., making disciples. The reindeer act asmodes of transportation. They are the evangelists, missionaries and church planters who take Santa’s handiwork (the Gospel) around the world. If they are successful, they will rescue mankind (the marshmallows) from the campfire (the fiery pits of hell).
“You might see the ark as a reference to Noah and the Flood. Rookie mistake. The ark is of course representative of Christ’s Church. To be more precise, it is the many and diverse congregations that comprise the Missouri Baptist Convention. The ‘Joy to the World’ is not merely a trite Christmas quotation; it is the glad tidings of God at work The Pathway gets to bring every two weeks.”
There were attempts to put bow-ties on each of the inflatable characters, but time did not allow for such personalized hijinks.
Sources indicate that last year,one of the Christmas elves read a passage from Luke 2. That was deemed too cliché, so instead organizers read aloud from Numbers 2:
“The leader of the peopleof Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. His division numbers 74,600. The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. His division numbers 54,400. The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon. His division numbers 57,400.”
The merrymakers then broke into song, being careful to not wake up Gidget, the Hinkle’s toy poodle.
Investigators are baffled by the fact that The Pathway’s Sonitrol alarm was still set and armed when staffers arrived at work Monday morning. This suggests that a staggering level of sophistication and planning went into the operation. Investigators have not ruled out a Mission: Impossible-type entry through the drop ceiling.
One of the Christmas revelers speaking on condition of anonymity said the group began collecting money in early December to determine who would be the lucky recipient of the Christmas Miracle. MBC staffers had three nominees to whom they could donate. One nominee had $27, a second $29 and the winner, Hinkle, had $291.Because there was no overhead this year, 100 percent of the $347 have been donated to the Jefferson City Samaritan Center. Last year’s total was only $160.
There is no news of who might be the recipient of Christmas Joy in 2011, but there is chatter of a field trip to a small town near Branson.
“We may not even wait until Christmas,” the communiqué threatened. “Why not Christmas in July?”