It was 14 years ago today. December 16, 2003. Nine days prior to Christmas in 2003, my mom traded her earthly, temporary home for her eternal, Heavenly Home with her Savior. A couple of days after the funeral I returned from New York State, where the funeral for my mom had been held, to Lancaster, PA where I lived at the time. It was a few days before Christmas and I had resumed my life while adjusting to my mom not being a tangible part of my life anymore. I was the only member of my family living in Lancaster and, while I had several friends, most of them had their own plans for Christmas. I had a few people invite me to their homes for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but I turned all of them down opting instead to spend the day alone and in the way that I wanted to.
My church in Lancaster had a Christmas Eve service that I attended. I believe I cried through all of it as some of my mom’s favorite songs were sung and I sat there remembering many of the amazing Christmases that I shared with my mom. I went home after that service and I went straight to bed. I was exhausted from the emotional week I had after my mom passed away. I slept very well that night for the first time since she had gone on to Heaven.
Christmas Day I actually slept in until about 9:00 AM. I had decided that instead of spending the day alone, I would go over to the homeless shelter and help serve lunch. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that on a holiday and I was very moved and humbled by the experience. To see up close and personal the struggles of many Americans was a heart breaking and an emotional experience. I talked with many adults as I helped serve them food that day and passed out some gifts to some of the children. It was a “tradition” I continued for the rest of the time I lived in Pennsylvania. I returned home from that and I unwrapped the gifts that people had bought for me. I ate many of the traditional things that my mom and I had shared for the Christmases we spent together after my dad passed away. However, to be perfectly honest … I spent a good portion of the day feeling very sorry for myself and having a giant self-pity party!
As the evening approached I sat down on the couch. As I sat there thinking about my mom and my family’s traditions, my cat (a favorite Christmas gift from my mom from years gone by), jumped up next to me. As I sat there petting my cat, God began to speak to me in that still, small voice inside of each Christian. I began to realize that Christmas Day is not about spending time with family and friends, feeding the homeless, unwrapping presents or eating our favorite foods. All of those things are wonderful traditions that I love, but Christmas is about celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ and even more than that, the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth to author Salvation’s Story! Yes, my mom was no longer with me on this earth but she was celebrating with Jesus and someday, I will see her again! That fact alone is reason to celebrate!
I picked up my Bible and I began to read the Book of Luke. Of course, Luke, chapter 2 is the Christmas Story and I loved reading it but I did not stop there. I continued to read and before I knew it, I had read the entire Book of Luke! I read about the miracles that Jesus performed, the sermons He preached, the people He touched and healed and then, of course, His crucifixion, His resurrection and His ascension.
Just like that, my day was transformed! Oh sure, I still missed my mom terribly and I still do, especially at Christmas, BUT I was reminded the real reason we celebrate. We say we celebrate the Birth of our Savior, which is true, but are we also not celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? For without that, the birth would not have been significant. Even after all of these years, I still read the entire Book of Luke on every Christmas day!
So, this year I challenge you to not only celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ but also His death and resurrection. After all, it was that Baby born in Bethlehem that would go on to bridge the gap for each Christian between here and eternity in Heaven and, in the process, He would author the greatest love story every written, God’s Love for you and me.
Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior or is He just a baby in a manger to you? If He is just a baby in a manger to you, let me invite you to get to know the real Jesus Christ! The one who can save your soul and transform your life! You can invite Christ into your heart today and to begin that personal relationship with Him that will transform your life!
Merry Christmas to you and your family. I wish you many blessings this Christmas Season and all year through!