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A Different Christmas (published in The North Weld Herald, 12/23/10)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:16 PM by Fccea Webmaster
Christmas will be different this year. Mom died last January. For the first time in our lives, Patty and I have no parents with whom to share the holiday. We understand a little better why holidays are bittersweet for some, and why despair rises this time of year.

I am the oldest of eleven children, so you can guess what a raucous time Christmas was at our house. We didn't have a lot, but we more than made up for it in spirit. And as we got older and began to get jobs, we made sure the tree was loaded with presents!

Mom and Dad made sure we understood the true meaning of Christmas. We re-read the story and talked about it every year. But, truth be told, our young minds went pretty quickly to the fun part. We always opened gifts one at a time, so as to prolong the pleasure. And there was joking, and singing, and eating, and games, and football, and noise.

As we married and had children of our own, we had our own Christmas, but later in the day we made our way to Mom and Dad's to celebrate further with whoever was there.

It will be different this year. We will awaken on Christmas morning, and it will just be us. We will miss the noise and the laughter and the boisterous atmosphere. Christmas will be different. But, for us, the joy will be the same! We will count our blessings. There are many.

First, while some beloved people are missing, THE ONE who makes Christmas meaningful will be right there with us, just like always. The real joy has always centered in Him, and this year will be no different.

Second, we know where Mom and Dad are! Turns out, during all those lean years, our parents were gifting us richly -- a legacy of faith in Christ that leaves no doubt whatsoever that they are all celebrating this year in the presence of Jesus Himself. Fairy Tales? Not on your life. Jesus promised that he was going to prepare a place so that "where I am you may be also" (John 14:3). And God said through Paul that for the believer, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" (II Cor 5:8). We KNOW where they are, and rejoice for them!

Third, we know where our earthly family is -- brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces. Most have placed their faith in Christ. We are trusting and praying that all will eventually. So while they stretch from California to Texas and beyond this year, a glorious reunion is coming one day on a restored new heaven and new earth where every day will be Christmas. What we've had before is just a small sweet sample of forever with Jesus. Real life isn't over; it hasn't even begun yet.

Finally, over the past two years in Eaton, God has given us through our church a whole new family -- complete with parents, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews! We love every one of them dearly. Amazingly, they love us too, or sure act like they do. We are all of us together like any family, flawed and imperfect, but we care for each other, rejoice together, and sometimes go through deep water together.

Want to see what it's like? Get a sample of one small part of the family of God. Join us for our Christmas Eve service at 9:00 p.m. on December 24 -- 2nd and Cheyenne. Let us show you that while Christmas may be different, the joy can be the same and more real than ever. Merry Christmas!

By His Grace, Pastor Dave