Advent is about waiting, and waiting comes with so much anticipation. But Christmas is that time when God rewards our waiting and our anticipation with THE VERY BEST GIFT—HIMSELF! He is always more than we could have anticipated.
We have only to look at Christmas cards and nativity scenes to know that somewhere along the way, we began to romanticize that very first Christmas. Somehow we have a need to cover the squalor with hay, and we hide Mary’s fear and pain with a satisfied smile. I’m not certain why we do that. When I first visited Bethlehem and the supposed site of Jesus’ birth, I was surprised that it was in a cave-like grotto, much how I had imagined the empty tomb. It was not the place of my childhood imagination nor the pictures I saw in Sunday School. And let us not forget on the FIRST CHRISTMAS, the Star of Bethlehem above the manger casts the shadow of a cross.
There have been a couple of thousand Christmases since that very first Christmas, and every year, it is the last Christmas on earth for millions of people. If you knew it was your last Christmas, how would you spend it? How would it change your gift-giving? How would it influence your conversation around the table?
In my book, THE CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT, Diana Joy Harding knew, that short of a miracle, she wouldn’t see another Christmas, so she spent her time preparing her family – making lists of things for them to do when she was gone, talking about the values of a shared faith, shared family, and a shared forever, and even preparing their Christmas gifts.
Diana Joy leaves a letter to accompany her Christmas present for her daughter, ten-year-old Kate. It reads –
My sweet Kate, my Katherine Joy,
It’s our first Christmas apart. These gifts are to remind you that I’m always as close as your thoughts of me. This quilt will wrap you in warm memories and my nearness. You were created and born in love, and you’ll forever be my daughter. Be happy, Kate. Be kind to others and be good to yourself. And Katherine Joy, you be aware of all the wonders that others miss, especially the redbird. I love you. And remember always – faith, family, and forever.
What kind of gifts would you leave for your family if you knew this was your last Christmas? What kind of letter would you write to those you love? Perhaps we should be living our lives with those kinds of thoughts every day.
I write this at the risk of sounding a bit morbid, but listen and look for the hope, God’s assurance that all will be well. God came that very first Christmas and said, “I’m here, really here.” He was and is here, present with us for now and eternity.
For those of us who know Christ, there is no “last” Christmas. We know that cross-like shadow cast by the Bethlehem star lights the way to an empty tomb and to the forever kind of life that God offers for those who follow Him.
My prayer is that your Christmas will be filled with God’s best blessings and your time with those you love will reflect His love and goodness. And may you never forget—Faith. Family. Forever.