My holiday preparations were interrupted this year. We were needed in Pittsburgh after my sister-in-law Gerry suffered a stroke. Our medical emergency trip turned into a funeral. Gerry is spending Christmas in her forever home with the Savior. I was reminded of Christmas a year ago as my dear friend lost her battle against cancer. I decided to repeat my blog. It was written specific for my friend LaRee, but the message is the same. It’s for Gerry, LaRee, you, and me. It’s God’s gift.
It’s that time of year. My house is adorned with sparkling lights and festive decorations. Presents are wrapped and anxiously await the arrival of my grandsons. My husband works upstairs in his train room with Christmas music that filters down and sounds like I have a built-in speaker system. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
I visited my friend today, a lady filled with faith and grace and a big dose of southern charm, one of the few originals in this community of northern transplants. Her home isn’t quite as festive. She’s in hospice care and couldn’t leave her bed. I held her hand as we prayed, and I shared a scripture that I hoped would bring comfort. When I left her home, I cried.
Dying and Christmas don’t seem to go together. It feels unfair that sadness should weave its way into our joy. As I sat alone pondering and praying, I realized why it feels unfair. It’s because we want Christmas on our terms. We want fa la la la la, crackling fireplaces, and cups of cocoa loaded with whipped cream. We want illusions of a silent night and an infant sleeping in heavenly peace.
But that’s not Christmas. Christmas is Christ taking on flesh, leaving the place of heavenly peace to come to a fallen world, a world with sin and evil and cancer. A world where ladies filled with faith and grace suffer. You may be ready to stop reading and close your browser before I ruin the joyful spirit, but please don’t. Read just a little more.
Death is why Christ came to us. It sounds like a platitude to say that He’s the best gift of all, but that’s exactly what happened all those years ago. We were lost and needed redemption. When the magi visited, one brought the gift of myrhh, a bitter herb used in anointing those sick and dying. Even from the manger, God showed us the link between the infant Messiah and death. Not our death but His. Through the cross, He defeated that enemy once and for all.
- He who has the Son, has life. 1 John 5:12.
- I come that they might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
- It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Galatians 5:1
Yes, we will still face the hardships of this life. We will still face the decline of our earthly bodies. But death will not have the final word. So I’ll continue to sing Joy to the World and hand out presents. I’ll gather with friends and family to celebrate. When sadness for my friend threatens the joy, I will remember the real gift of Christmas—the gift of life.
Wishing you a very blessed Christmas,