Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas Present

Below is an excerpt from a book that I bought for Karen. It was written by a mother who was grieving the sudden death of their young adult son, much like the story of Joey. She took some of her journal entries and shared it on the book. The she added some more insights. Details of the book will come later, but for now I wanted Karen and Joe to see this:

The Treasure of Holiday Presence Midnight Principle: The Christmas story itself can give strength through the season.
Journal Insight Sunday, December 19, 1993.

Chuck’s message gives me permission to step back from the glitz of Christmas without guilt. For Some reason it helps me to know that the coming of Messiah was a time of pain and weeping. Jesus did not come as a conquering king but a suffering servant. The shepherds were watching over temple sheep that were set apart for slaughter as sacrifices. God chose for Jesus to be born into the rule of a cruel, brutal man. Herod had killed every member of his family that he suspected of disloyalty. The arrival of the wise men from Iran and Iraq terrified Herod. He was so frightened by their search for the baby who would be king that he ordered every baby boy under the age of two to be killed.Matthew 2:17 -18: “Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’ “This terrible loss was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15. O God, you knew. You knew. Somehow that comforts me. There are no accidents. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is told that a sword will pierce her soul as a result of the birth and life of this child. O God, what did Christmas really cost?

In the Bleak of Midwinter

Isaiah’s Sustenance

Holidays sharpen grief. Celebrating such a treasured family holiday was on our minds even on that terrible July night when we lost Mark. On our way home form the hospital, Chuck grabbed my hand a barely whispered, “Christmas, how can we ever celebrate Christmas?

I had no answer.

Christmas had always been my favorite time of year. We didn’t buy many toys for our children throughout the year; that was reserved for Christmas. What great fun we always had, planning and preparing, watching for sales, loving the adrenalin of the chase and the victory of finding just the right gift at just the right price. When mark and Daniel had wanted the most popular toy, we had done everything we could to find it. We had perpetuated our childhood family traditions; family and friends always joined us for a Christmas Eve buffet and then attended the church communion service. I always loved the candlelight service, the music, the family feeling, the preaching, the security of old family traditions. Afterwards our immediate family had gathered at our home for the kids to exchange gifts and enjoy the euphoria of Christmas.

On the night of Mark’s death, I concluded I would never experience such joy again.

In my journal I wrote out passages from Isaiah as God’s personal Christmas card to me and to remind me of his instructions. Some of those verses are here; some are in the Scriptural Gems section later in the chapter.

But now, this is what the lord says – he who created you, O Jacob He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isa. 43:1-2)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isa. 43:18-19)

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isa. 49:23b)

Part 2 coming soon - titled Decoration-Day Meltdown
P.S. Thank you Eydis for typing these for us ...


Anonymous said...

Hey Joe & Karen,

I walk by your unit almost everyday and its wierd to see it so empty. I think about you guys all the time and wonder how you both are doing. I finally had a chance to read your blog of your trip. There was so many beautiful stories and pictures I fought back tears as I read thru each one. I hope you are enjoying the time with your family. I know this Christmas will not be the same for you guys. I am so glad you guys can all be together as a family. Love you!

Aloha Tawny