Last Christmas I shared these memories and thoughts with my church family. Today I post them on my blog so that I can share with all of you.
Christmastime is such a magical and wonderful time of the year. Today I still have that sense of excitement about the season that I first felt as a little child.
I can remember the thrill that I experienced when I, then a young boy of five or six, ate a breakfast of eggs and biscuits, country ham, red-eye gravy and grits and went out in the Carolina woods with my older brother Harold, to cut a Christmas tree. What wonderment! What joy! But even sweeter than that is the memory of those dear, sweet faces of all my loving family as we gathered around the family table for a bountiful Christmas feast — my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, all laughing and talking and enjoying the special dishes that my mother so lovingly prepared for our Christmas dinner.
The years flew by — ever so swiftly
In a few days now I will celebrate my ninetieth Christmas, but the sense of joy and wonderment that I knew as a child remains. I still love to feel the briskness of a clear December morning, to hear the sound of carols, to enjoy the beauty of a Christmas tree, to experience the love and fellowship we share around our family table, and to worship our Lord with family and friends on Christmas Eve.
To those of you who are young, I give you my sincere wish that you have many, many merry Christmases on this earth — and that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be at the center of them all.
Now for a few thoughts directed to the rest of us.
Most of us who are older have happy memories of Christmases past; but with these sweet visions of the past there also comes a touch of sadness. Our hearts now bring to mind’s eye the images of those so dear to us who are now separated from us by the miles or by the gulf of death, and we feel a sense of loss. And as the years continue to flow by, we number fewer and fewer of our family and friends among the living, and our hearts at times grow heavy.
Also, in this broken world there are some of you who never experienced the joy of a truly happy family, and perhaps for you there are not many pleasant memories of Christmases past. And there may be others among you who are suffering from privation or loneliness or ill health, and your hearts ache within you.
I say to all of you, REJOICE!!! The Lord came for all of us on Christmas day. He came for each and every one of us — young and old, sick or well. And on that glorious day God gave to us the gift of his only Son — the hope of the world and the keeper of the way to eternal life. Through him we have the promise of someday being reunited with the faithful ones who have gone before us. AND WHAT A CHRISTMAS THAT WILL BE!!!
As we celebrate this Christmas, let us not forget this promise — for only then we can truly rejoice, regardless of our circumstances.
It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold:
Peace on the earth, good will to men, from heav’ns’ all gracious king
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angel’s sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come, with peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats o’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing:
And ever o’er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.
For lo, the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old,
When, with the ever circling years, shall come the time foretold,
When the heav’n and earth shall own the Prince of Peace their king
And the whole world send back the song, which now the angel’s sing.
Come now, all you dear people, and let us worship our king —
O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant, O come ye, o come ye to
Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels!
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord
I KNOW that my redeemer liveth. PRAISE THE LORD!