Friday, September 29, 2006

Christmas in September

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it…” (Rom.14:5-6a)

Although it is made up of a great host of true absolutes, the Word of God also includes a surprising amount of either/or’s. The Book that gives us dogmatic assurance of our origin, purpose, and final destiny, gives us plenty of elbow room when it comes to choices in life that are purely preferential. Those of us who function best in a highly structured environment can easily find a body of believers who are similarly inclined; while others of us who prize our freedom to “work out our own salvation” (Philip.2:12), so to speak, are able to fellowship with other like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ, as well. I say this to prepare those you who have chosen not to celebrate Christmas at all for the fact that, by year’s end, our family will have celebrated it twice!

You see, our grandson, Benjamin, who is a young engineer in the Air Force will be in Iraq by the time 2007 is here; and besides seeing an Oakland A’s baseball game, his also wanted to have Christmas with his family while he was home for a week. Fortunately, our daughter-in-law, who loves Christmas, is always happy for any excuse to put up a Christmas tree! There was turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn-on-the cob and both vegetable and fruit salads. (By the way, Sharon somehow managed all this between duties as a hospice nurse.) The biggest gifts were for Ben, of course, but Sharon saw to it that all of us got something. While the rest of us played games, she wrapped presents and cooked, all the while keeping an eye on her grandson (and our great-grandson), Ethan. Mostly, though, her eyes were following the son who would soon be in harms way, as he laughed and joked and wolfed down his Christmas dinner.

Whatever our feelings about observing the birth of Christ, we are all agreed that had God not chosen to give His Son, there would be no reason for any of us to celebrate. Mothers and fathers like our son and his wife have some small insight into what it feels like to send a child into a foreign country to face a mortal enemy, just as God did. I told Ben, as I hugged his neck one last time before going home that I would be praying and waiting for Christmas next year, when we would all, God willing, once more sit around the table together. And one day, we who are the children of God will all sit around God’s table, and our eyes will look upon the One who stepped into harm’s way for us. We will rejoice that then there will be no more heartache, no more sickness, no more pain, no more dying…and no more war.

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