Saturday, December 28, 2013
Perhaps it was the passing of one of our pastors - a friend to many. This Christmas had to have been especially hard for his family. The first without the head of their household, a husband and a father. What does a widow do who sits beneath the Christmas tree, alone, and cries while remembering Christmases of old.
The lack of "that special feeling" this Christmas could have also been due to the death of a young girl in our town two months ago. Her family must certainly miss her this Christmas. Certainly the tears flowed freely at her family's house as they hung up the stockings on the fireplace, tears lingered on their cheeks as they held her stocking in their hands. Christmas for them will never be the same.
The usual Christmas festivities and traditions our family once enjoyed by all have changed. This year our children are celebrating multiple places with other families and Christmases of their own. Yes, Christmas was "different" from what it had been and I found myself missing all the laughter and the overeating, the sugared-up kids running around, filled with too many Christmas cookies. Things just weren't the same. But then something wonderful happened. Something special. I broke a tooth.
As I sat in the dentist chair getting prepped for a crown my dentist spoke some words to me that resonated deep within my soul. They made me reflect on this Christmas season and they provided the answer to the reason this Christmas feels so different to me. My dentists words, it seemed, might very well have been spoken by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
"Everybody needs me . . . but nobody wants me."
My dentist friend was speaking about his profession and how we all hate going to the dentist. We never WANT to go to the dentist but we all NEED to go if we want to keep our teeth healthy and clean. I, of course, was hearing something totally different. I was hearing how we all need Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives but, sadly, many of us don't really want him. I think that THAT was what was bothering me this Christmas. There are just so many people that NEED Jesus this Christmas.
This Christmas Eve we were in Milwaukee visiting my wife's parents. But instead of going with them to church, I decided to visit my church's former pastor at his NEW church in West Allis. And that was where my attitude for Christmas changed. That is where Christmas found ME.
I hadn't even gotten to the church yet when I was recognized on the street by our former pastor, my brother in Christ, and received a warm, welcoming hug. Then later, during the singing of a hymn, O Holy Night, I really felt things change. The chorus specifically, a reminder to all of us this Christmas.
"Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!"
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’" - Luke 4:16-23
And so it was that this Christmas was "saved" in my life this year. Despite all the sad things that have happened, the struggles that have taken place, God is still on His thrown and is still in charge of everything. God helped me break out of my "funk" through the words of a physician of sorts, a dentist, and ended with the birth of The Great Physician and the words of a Christmas hymn.
May the joys of this Christmas and of Christmases long past, bring peace and joy into your hearts as we ALL . . . fall on our knees.
O Holy Night by Rhema Marvanne (7 years old)