We are now in the season of Advent leading us toward Christmas as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child into our lives again. Advent and Christmas are far more than celebrating a 2,000-year-old historical event. It is celebrating a basic truth about God – that God came to us that we might be in relationship with our Creator. During this time of year, we affirm that Christ has come and is present and actively engaged in our world. We also acknowledge that Christ will come again in all of His fullness and redeem the Universe. So, during these days of December, the faithful Christian lives in a spirit of expectation, anticipation, preparation and longing.
I have been blessed for 40 Christmases to be married to Jennifer. If there ever was a person who loves this season of the year, it is her. Now I love it too, but Jennifer is the expert. She loves everything about Advent and Christmas.
The Episcopal residence was decorated before Thanksgiving and our house in Lexington shortly thereafter. We will host the Methodist Center Staff at the residence on December 14. We will celebrate Christmas with a dinner for Red Bird pastors and staff in Manchester on December 12. One of the advantages of a missionary conference is that all the leaders can share together this way. And Jennifer and I will host the Kentucky Conference Cabinet for dinner festivities on December 4. Like all true United Methodists food becomes a focal point for us when we fellowship together.
Jennifer’s enthusiasm for all things Christmas has been handed down to our children and grandchildren. Throughout John and Laura’s growing up years, Jennifer would buy them one Christmas ornament each year. When they grew up and left home (praise God) Jennifer presented them with a large box of their ornaments so that they could start their own traditions which they have vigorously done.
Music fills our home. Last year one of my presents from the grandchildren was their learning and singing for me one of my favorite songs – “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” And I dare not change the channel on Jennifer’s car radio which is set on the holiday channel for non-stop Christmas music.
We must have 30 nativity scenes in our home, and most of them are unbreakable so our grandchildren can play with them. And we use them each year to teach “the story” to the kids. Now that they are a little older, we are not only teaching the facts about wise men, kings, Mary, Joseph and the baby, but we are starting to tell about why Jesus came to be with us.
Some years all the family come to our house for Christmas; some years Jennifer and I travel to be with them. Sometimes we are actually together on Christmas Eve and Day. At other times the family Christmas gathering happens a few days early or late. It really does not matter as long as we can connect with our loved ones.
So, wherever you might be this Christmas know that the Lord is with you. Our hope for today and the future is not in ourselves. Our hope is in Christ – hope that came to us incarnated into flesh, a hope that can be held in a mother’s arms, a hope that will live beyond this life and one day bring peace to all nations. Therefore, Jennifer and I wish you great joy this Christmas and we do so with the confidence which comes from the birth of a Child in a Bethlehem manger – a child who was and is the Son of God.