Reflections – December 2017
For a child growing up in the Northeast before the era of interstate highways, traveling by car could be quite the l-o-n-g proposition. As an only child, my parents were spared those inevitable backseat sibling squabbles, but boredom and incessant questions of “how much longer” plagued them for sure. However, those long trips also provided a wide range of visual experiences to anticipate as I learned to read maps showing our route skirting rivers, lakes, waterfalls, parks, mountains — anything to break the monotony of mile after mile of cornfields, pastures, or other barren countryside.
Autumn’s vibrant colors enlivened things with an element of surprise around every turn. Those blazing colors sometimes reflected across sparkling lakes, providing a respite from the boredom, sometimes even a stop for photos. What glee I experienced when my dad brought home those photos after developing and printing so we could really determine how accurate those reflections actually were. Sometimes they were so crisp you could turn the photo upside down and hardly detect the difference. Other times we found that just a gentle breeze coming across a lake had rippled the surface of the water sufficiently so as to distort the reflected image. And still stronger winds or clouds might totally eradicate any hoped for reflection. Rated on a scale of 1-10, we never knew how fulfilling any year’s autumn foliage trip into the Adirondacks would be.
As the brilliant colors of autumn faded and leaves cascaded to the ground revealing the barren, grey landscape of November, anticipation began to build around the coming of December and Christmas. Though a picture-perfect postcard white Christmas was by no means a certainty, the expectation of a wonder-filled Christmas was a given. Christmas carols rang out proclaiming, “Peace on earth!” and “Glory to the newborn King!” Though war has often tarnished our country’s view of life and jobs have been scarce; though illness, death, and grief invade our lives, still the stability of knowing Jesus as our eternal Savior and King has kept the fires of joy and hope stoked in our hearts. “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” No matter our trial, Jesus is always our answer — ever ready and available to meet our deepest needs. “Be born in us today!” What a gift to share!
Each Christmas may be different. We may be surrounded by family and friends; we may be alone. We may be blessed with abundance; we may be in a tight spot financially. We may be young with fanciful dreams dancing before us; we may be on the later end of life with memories more comforting than the uncertainty of our present circumstances. We may be celebrating a new birth in the family or grieving a recent lost loved one. We may be looking forward to a well-deserved vacation; we may be lamenting the recent loss of a long held job. We may be praised for what we have done or provided; we may be undeservedly maligned based on inaccurate assertions and assumptions. Whether Christmas is ushered in amidst the commotion of a home filled with rambunctious young children or whether it creeps in quietly to a solitary person, the completeness and sufficiency of Christ is ever sure. And amazingly, Jesus presents Himself to us each and every day, sometimes subtly, other times dynamically, but always with a fresh invitation to commune with Him. That is His gift of Himself to us all through the year. Perhaps some of the words to the Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” sum this up well.
How silently, how silently the wondrous Gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.
May we welcome this Gift for all seasons each and every day, seeking to hear His voice of love, encouragement, and direction, and may we always be His faithful servants who are carriers of His presence, dedicated to advancing His kingdom in the earth.
Christmas Blessings to All,