This Christmas, for the first time in four years, all of our kids are home; a reality that we once took for granted. But things have changed, our three children live in three different provinces, two of them are married, all of them have jobs and homes and dogs, so planning trips 'back home' is far more complicated than it used to be. There really is a special joy this year in knowing they're all here.
Over the past few days they've been afforded the opportunity to break free from their 'adult world' and just be kids again--catching up on their sleep; playing games, watching movies, sharing activities together, laughter, lots of laughter around the table and of course cheering on the Bruins! This evening we will gather with our church family; the Christmas Eve service has always been part of our tradition.
Tomorrow morning, I will wake up before everyone else, turn on the Christmas lights and fireplace and recreate the wonder of Christmas mornings past. The smell of Janice's cinnamon buns will fill the air and one by one they will make their way to the living room. As we always do, they will open the stockings, we'll pause to read the Christmas story from Luke chapter two, share a traditional pancake breakfast and then open our gifts--pausing to realize how very blessed we are as a family. We'll gather one more time around the table for dinner; seeking to just enjoy the moment because it won't be long until the moment is past and we have part ways once again.
Some of you will share in the joy of being with your family and friends this Christmas; others will celebrate more quietly on your own. For some of our friends at Valley, there will be this year 'an empty chair' at the table; we especially remember those who are no longer with us and give thanks for the journey we have shared with them and we'll say a prayer for those for whom this Christmas just isn't the same.
And in all of our Christmas celebrations we do well to stop and reflect on the wonder and beauty of THE Christmas story; to allow our hearts and minds to take us back to Bethlehem and the joy of the angelic announcement: I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11) To know that God is a work in our world and in our lives; that He has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Himself and to know His grace and love is truly the greatest gift of all.
May you enjoy the blessings of this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; may you be blessed with the company of family and friends or in the quietness of your home; and may each of us bow our heads in worship as we confess: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! ( 2 Corinthians 9:15)
To our church family at Valley; to all of our family and friends, from our homes to yours, 'Merry Christmas'!