Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hope this Christmas

Most years, I don't really get into the Christmas spirit until the last minute. You won't find me listening to Christmas music much until a couple of weeks before December 25. You certainly won't find me shopping for gifts until I have realized time is running out! Not so this year. I have been listening to instrumental Christmas music on Pandora since before Thanksgiving! I have bought and wrapped all but a few of the gifts on my list this year. I'm in full swing with watching cheesy Christmas movies on ABC family and Hallmark and looking up Christmas recipes on Pinterest. I'm loving it.
Now, all that is fun and good. But I believe this "Christmas spirit" is a gift, this year in particular. Because this Christmas is not like all the Christmases before it. 
It's a tough time for me and my family. Over Thanksgiving break, my family celebrated my mom's birthday, and it was the first one without her here. We let her grandkids send balloons "to Heaven" and spread her ashes over the ocean. It was bittersweet. My mom loved the holidays, and it's especially hard to think about going through them without her.
I'm not only missing my mom this Christmas. On this Tuesday a year ago, I was driving with my stepmom, both of us with no sleep, to Emory hospital in Atlanta where my dad had been transported by ambulance. It was on this night a year ago we were told odds were he would not make it. Daddy died two nights later, on Thursday the 8th of December. 

fast forward one year... 
Tonight I went to "The Plug" which is Ingleside's monthly worship gathering for young adults. Our pastor, David Peterson, spoke about the virgin birth of Jesus and why that is important. I personally felt like God had a special word for me in there (don't you love it when that happens??). I wanted to pass it on. It is simple, really.

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). --Matthew 1:23

Did you see that? Jesus is Immanuel--God with us. 

I don't know about you, but this makes me want to worship. As I was singing tonight, all of these thoughts I just shared with you, about the timing of everything and what was going on a year ago tonight, were running through my mind. It was tempting to be overwhelmed with it all. But God whispered this truth to me... "I am Immanuel. I am with you." God did not choose to heal my Daddy on this side of heaven even though we prayed so hard for that very thing. I don't know why he got sick and died. I still wrestle with why my mom was ripped from my life so suddenly, so senselessly, and so soon after my Daddy died. I don't have all the answers, and this thought that God is with me does not solve everything. But it does give me HOPE.

Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because God came down to earth--Immanuel--to bring hope to a broken world. 
To bind up the brokenhearted
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
     to release from darkness for the prisoners
to comfort all who mourn
(from Isaiah 61:1-2)

Christmas is about the good news of Jesus Christ, our savior, who came to earth, born of a virgin, to live a perfect life and die in our place, to offer hope and salvation to those who seek for it. I know this message is simple, but thinking of it in the context of my "different" sort of Christmas this year made me so grateful for this new found "Christmas spirit." :)

I don't know where you are in life, but if you are like me and needing hope this Christmas, I hope you find it in the true meaning of Christmas this year. Jesus is our hope. 

Merry Christmas!

Love you all.