A Christmas Wish

December 25, 2021

“The fireplace just don’t warm our hearts like it ought to, the carols seem so hollow to our ears.
A million miles from home we’re feeling lonesome - lonesome for the place we love so dear.
We know the perfect way to spend a holiday, why don’t You come and take us home with You.
Why don’t You come and take us home for Christmas, wrap us all up in arms of shining love;
Ride us through the sky on magic sleighs, we’ll be the gifts for Your birthday, why don’t You come and take us home with You” (Reba Rambo).

For some the Christmas holiday will be a hollow celebration, if a celebration at all. Like the lyrics to the song above, many things have taken the joy out of the Christmas season - death, serious illness, broken relationships, economic reversal, loneliness. For many of us Christmas is not only a time to reflect on the holy family - Joseph, Mary, and Jesus - but also a time to be with our own family. And yet, for some there will be empty chairs around the table, presents absent from under the tree, missing stockings on the mantle. Rather than the chatter of children, songs of carolers, and conversations of family and friends, there will be the silent memories of people, places, and loved ones of yesterday. Loss makes us all ‘older’.

The parables of The Garment and Wineskins (Matthew 9:16-17) is about letting go of the past and embracing the present and future - not that the past is meaningless, but it needs to give way to what is now and in the future. Nancy and I have a ‘Remembrance Tree’ next to our Christmas Tree in the living room. On it hang the pictures of her father, mother, and sister who have gone on to be with Jesus. The pictures of my father, mother, and brother also hang on the tree because they have taken the same journey to be with the Lord. We loved them. We love them still. They are not with us around the table, but they are with us in our hearts, minds, and spirits.

This is not a morbid thing. It is healthy to grieve, but it is healthier to remember and appreciate what gifts we had in them and the gifts they brought into our lives. Solomon warns us, Do not say, "Why were the former days better than these?" For you do not inquire wisely concerning this (Ecclesiastes 7:10). Wisdom teaches us to thank God for those who have been an important part of our lives and to rejoice in having known them. 

I wish for all of us this Christmas to be grateful to the Lord for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, for the gifts of love, grace, and mercy that has brought salvation to the believing soul, and for the gifts of loved ones that have been an important part of our lives who are now absent from us, and for those who remain with us. It would be a good thing to breath a prayer to the Lord, thanking Him for the ones He has placed in our lives who have had a positive, and even a negative impact on us, mentioning them by name, and the things we have gained from them, in that prayer.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in [them], these do, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9). Amen.


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