Quite the week! Monday Don and I drove back to our former residence to take items for an estate sale this weekend, which would be set up on Tuesday. Wednesday we saw and heard the Foto Sisters sing and play piano, violin, viola and cello here at The Villages. Wonderful harmonies and lilting melodies, voices that moved seamlessly from high to low and back again, helped us focus on the joy and good news of the Christmas season.
Friday evening we enjoyed singing Christmas carols with my mother and her church. Last night we attended a client appreciation dinner with our realtor’s company. And new neighbors are coming over for dessert on Monday. (Actually, we’re the new neighbors.)
Meanwhile, I drove to Palo Alto four times to give sputum samples and see my pulmonologist about whether a non-contagious lung infection I’ve had for several years is abating. Looking pretty good, but the challenge continues. I miss being able to sing as I used to. Instead of soprano, I’m usually singing alto or tenor now, and raspily (I know that’s not a real word) at that.
This season tells the story of hope for all mankind. Of suffering, of sacrifice, of joy and of pain. It tells the story, not only of Jesus’ birth, but leads to His death and resurrection. He sacrificed, that we might be saved. He went through agonizing pain of body and spirit, that we might be redeemed, brought into relationship with God through Jesus’ payment for our sins. There is a cosmic war going on between light and darkness, but God in Christ won the battle at the Cross, and Jesus is Lord!
We are richly blessed in the things that really matter–family, friends, Immanuel, God with us. Beautiful, centering music. Hearing the name of our God lifted up in the memorial service for President George H.W. Bush.
Yet in the middle of all the festivities and celebration and joy, there is lots of pain.
- Families have lost loved ones, homes, towns in California wildfires. Many don’t know where their next housing will come from.
- Friends have lost loved ones…husband, mother, others…and are facing their first Christmas without that precious one at their side, at their table.
- Families are stressed because of conflict, finances, illness, and other challenges.
- Loneliness is heightened during a season focused on love, when many are surrounded by loved ones and others feel like everyone else has it together.
- Political conflict abounds. Riots in France, questions about integrity and leadership at home, persecution of Christians abroad.
This is a time of challenge, but with challenge, people often look for more, for answers, for something or someOne who can give peace despite circumstances. Life is hard. Jesus said:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
While we still face difficulties, we have a God who has promised to be with us in all, who cares for our pain, and who promises His people a future when justice will reign, illness will be forever gone, and we will live in peace, love and joy in His presence for all eternity.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” (Matthew 5:3, MSG)
Will you join me in focusing on moments of joy and gratitude this Christmas season, rather than in the “to do lists” we all have for the holidays? Let’s make more of presence than of presents; of the beauty in our loved ones than in our homes; of God’s good gifts than in our wish lists.
Blessings to you this Christmas!