Below is a message I received from a new friend -- one of several good people from all over the world whom I have come to know as a result of correspondences they sent me following the tragedy that took place at the West Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse in October.
I asked Cea if she would grant me permission to post her letter here, because I believe her words are evidence of both genuine Christian love, and the precious uniting of two hearts that comprehend the true meaning of the celebration of Christmas (I did not express to her those opinions, in those terms, because she is far too humble to listen to, let alone agree with, those sentiments when applied to her own actions and beliefs. :)
Anyway, this is the message I received from Cea a few days ago, in its entirety. Perhaps we all can use it in some entirely personal way, to enrich our own Christmas reflections (I know I did) – by considering thoughts that are, at the same time, sorrow-filled and uplifting ... and so fitting for this most beautiful of seasons:
Lately, my free time is directed toward and consumed by caretaking. I am in the process of assisting my mother through the interesting stages of her second childhood and walking methodically with her through the emotional, physical, and spiritual struggles that come when one's body simply wears out.
Every day, she is moving closer and closer to the marvelous dwelling place her Heavenly Father has prepared for her.
As soon as I leave my assigned workstation at the office, I'm off to pick her up from "day-care." She calls our time getting settled in at home "happy hour" and dinner preparation, etc. "mischief making." We've finished putting up our tree and the little manger scene composed of Boyd's Bears. (She found it in one of the antique stores in Old Towne Orange, where we live.)
Christmas at our house is well underway. She, in her very childlike way, is peering into Christmas with such fresh excitement, awe, and wonder. I've caught her rocking in her chair by the tree on an evening saying over and over softly ... "It's amazing, it's amazing God with us."
She can no longer remember the words to familiar Christmas carols but the music itself speaks to her. She quietly hums her own special composition of Silent Night, Away in the Manger, Good Christian Men Rejoice, O Come All Ye Faithful, Jesus Loves Me, and her favorite bits and pieces from The Messiah. She often clearly sings ... "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
She has her own little bridge and goes into singing, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." My favorite of her songs is the chorus, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honor, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
So, I may not have a great deal to say about the Christmas Season as I am so caught up in living it with someone very frail. Someone who believes in and rejoices in the miracle of Christmas. She admits openly that she doesn't know a lot any more ... but she does know the Christmas cookies have never tasted sweeter, the lights have never been brighter, the music never more glorious.
I'm living with someone who is, even in a wheelchair, walking by faith, who knows what it is to have a relationship with the person who came into the world as the child in the manger ... whose birth we celebrate.
As I daily walk my mother to the grave, I pity the souls who are trying to drive the Christ child out of our culture, out of our public square, out of our collective consciousness. What will they do when they stand on the edge of eternity ... peering into emptiness ... emptiness that resulted from insisting that we extract this miraculous time of remembering the Christ child from our lives?
What will our culture do when there is no longer the annual call ... the call to come and see ... to come and bow down ... to come and adore ... to recognize with awe and reverence the miracle of God with us?
Pity the man and woman, standing with diminished physical, emotional and spiritual strength facing eternity with such an arrogant heart knowing not the Christ of Christmas.