Monday, December 22, 2008

Changing Traditions

We felt loved by the friends who prepared and served the Christmas Eve buffet in our home before the communion service. In his Christmas Eve message Chuck shared with the congregation the Scriptures from Isaiah that were so comforting to us. By the time we sang “O Holy Night” at the end of the service, we were emotionally spent and drew strength from the hugs and tears of friends.

By Christmas morning we needed private family time. Instead of joining extended family for the traditional noisy celebration at the homes of our parents, we stayed at our house. Phone calls from family members meant so much as we tried to honor Christ and grieve for Mark at the same time.

The Treasure of Holiday Presence

(Jesus said,) “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

On Christmas day, I slipped away to spend time alone in our bedroom, reading the Christmas story meditating especially on Mary and the conflicting emotions she must have experienced from the moment the angel told her about the coming Messiah. I wondered, Was she lonely, afraid, confused? What emotions swirled around her soul when she gave birth to Jesus, far from family, disconnected from everything familiar? I felt strangely drawn to her heart and the feelings she may have experienced on the dark, lonely night.

Mary’s song, recorded in Luke 1:46-55, acknowledged her own need of a Savior and her absolute trust that God keeps his promises from generation to generation. I wondered if she sang this song as a sacrifice of praise, choosing to believe the promises of God in the context of u unbelievable circumstance. I followed the thread of her story to the foot of the cross and wept as I married my longing for Mark to her anguish as she watched the brutalization of her beloved son. Did she wonder where God Was? As if to answer my questions, God drew me back to the Scriptures from Isaiah where he repeatedly promised to never leave me alone, to guide me in the darkness, to never forget me, to always be with me. I remembered that Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth of Jesus and proclaimed that he would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” The gospel of Matthew places this prophecy in the middle of the Christmas narrative (Matt. 1:23).

And do you know how Matthew ends his gospel? By his resurrection, Jesus has proven himself a victor over death. He’s about to ascend to the right hand of hi Father in heaven, and he promises his disciples- and his followers for generations to come- that he is not really leaving them. Jesus’ last words: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus, through his Spirit, is here. With us. With you. With me. Even now. Especially now, in the season that celebrates his birth.

Treasures of Hope

Scriptural Gems:

“ ’I am the lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’“ (Luke 1:38)

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)


Note from Liza: The last 4 entries on this blog are excerpts from the book titled "Treasures In Darkness - A Grieving Mother Shares Her Heart" written by Sharon W. Betters. If you missed the other 3 entries, click here and all the 4 posts will come up.

Tomorrow I will be posting the Christmas Letter Karen wrote ...