Now it’s not just written words which bring about memories. Maybe your family is similar to mine, and during this time of year tends to swap stories. I’m talking about those sweet inside jokes that have been handed down for years, and yet still make everyone laugh. Or maybe there are precious memories you hold onto of spoken words and sweet moments. Anyone who has had a young child, or been near one, during this time of year, can relate to hearing the excitement and joy in their voice as they open a gift. Maybe right now you’re thinking of those moments, I pray they bring you joy.
One of my favorite Christmas memories conjures an image that is part memory, and part of what my parent’s and grandfather have told me. There I was, four or five year old me, watching my grandfather open a gift when their golden retriever, Diva, ran into the mix and snatched the present from his hands.
My young mind remembers laughing and chasing after Diva, who found this to be the best game she had ever played. When my Papa finally got the gift from her mouth, she then clung to the wrapping paper that still remained. And off we went again, chasing her down the galley kitchen and into the dining room. My uncle and Papa had her pinned behind the dining room table until she escaped by squeezing between the chairs and shooting past all of us.
This is one of those moments so often brought up when we tell Christmas stories. Papa goes into story-telling mode and begins to regale us with the legend that was Diva, the sweetest dog on earth, except on Christmas morning. It always makes me laugh.
Until last year, Papa’s words, and my very dim memories, were all that brought the memory to life. But then, for my mom’s gift last Christmas, I took all of our home videos and transferred them from VHS to. Well, lo and behold, guess what we caught on tape?
There was the video of Diva running in my old grandparent’s house in Pennsylvania, Papa chasing after her, and his pajama-ed grandkids chugging along behind him. The squeaks and laughter were just like Papa had said!
I found myself laughing at the image, comparing it to the one I had in my mind. Oh, how the stories had brought the memories to life. I had lived them, but my mind was too young to remember all the details. Then a burst of color and I got to see the actual memory before me.
Now, I would like to take you to a manger. I wasn’t there, you weren’t there, but we have read the Word and with it, an image springs to life.
Sometimes I wonder what your imagination conjures. How does Mary look to you? What about Joseph? What about the scene our Lord and Savior entered into, in that tiny manger? Have you thought of the shepherds, and the angel that appeared before them? Does yours look like mine?
Most likely it’s different, but the important details are the same. The angel spoke and said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (ESV Luke 2:11-12)
We carry on each year, returning to these words in remembrance of Christ taking on flesh. By the Word we all share in this truth, this memory.
Well, I don’t know about you, but something is a little different this year. It’s a stirring in knowing that the Holy Spirit, which was there in the beginning, and was there as Christ came to earth, is also alive in me and alive in you. How miraculous!
Here we are, reading these words from the Lord and we are given special vision
because of the Spirit in us. I’m not saying I can fully understand what happened, or even if the idea in my mind is close to what the manger looked like, but there is a stirring in my heart that is true.
Do you have that this season? A joy that makes no sense, and is still true down to your soul?
This Christmas will be the first without all four of my grandparents living on earth. As some of you may know, my grandmother, Oma, is now in heaven. She is rejoicing while we miss her here. But now I want to tell you about one of the most special gifts I received this year. Randomly, she called me and left a voicemail. Little did I know that two months later she would be diagnosed with cancer, and five weeks after that God would call her home. I found this voicemail saved on my phone, oh what a gift to hear her voice!
Our Lord has left us with a way to hear His voice. We could have the Word surely, but without His Spirit would we be able to interpret it? Would we be able to surge with joy as we celebrate the birth of our Lord?
My prayer today is that you look at the Christmas story in a new light. Our Father wrote His Word as a love letter to us, to remind us that He would take on flesh to save us.
By Christ’s coming, the Word took on flesh and lived among us. We rejoice because it brings light to a memory of the manger and the Light that entered the world. May we rejoice and live with anticipation, until one day, the Lord calls us home.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. –John 1:9 (ESV)
Women’s Ministry Assistant