Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas reflections...

Our family Christmas celebrations have all been wonderfully unique and somehow strangely different than each one previous; but not in a bad way. It's just that at Christmas we are routinely involved in ministry responsibilities and that's been going on long before I became a Pastor. Somehow the places of ministry have changed over the years, housing situations have been very unique and different, finances have been good, bad or downright ugly. We've been separated by extremely long distances from either my parents or Cheryl's. I've been in hospitals praying for divine intervention for members in distress. I've chopped wood with my father on Christmas Eve for a member who desperately needed wood for heat and made it home through a blizzard in time for Christmas Eve dinner. I remember once in seminary we spent $50.00 on our total Christmas presents ($35.00 for 5 children $15.00 between Cheryl & I). This was made possible because of the generosity of the members of Bayleaf Baptist Church in North Carolina with their seminary toy chest - they bought the toys and the most we could spend as we shopped for each child was $7.00. I was supporting all 7 of us on a 35 hour a week salary and my boss needed 60 hours a week from me while I was going to seminary full time and teaching Sunday School. No matter where we've been or what was going on in our lives, two things have been consistent, the presence of Jesus superintending and guiding our footsteps as we've walked with the Lord together; and all of our children being with us for Christmas....until this year.

For 24 years, Cheryl and I have enjoyed all of our children being with us and seeing the excitement on their faces as we've read some portion of the Christmas story before opening presents. It has always been so special as we've shared gifts with one another and it seems like yesterday it was just three girls and they were each getting dolls made to look like them. Boys were added to the mix along the way and "GI Joe's" or Nerf guns were plotting surprise attacks. Now in our 25th year marriage, for the first time, one of our married daughters was not able to be with us on Christmas so we're in new chapter of life. Once again adding a unique twist to our Christmas celebration but with the aid of technology, we were able to video chat with them as they celebrate with our son in law's family in Texas. Sad in a way but part of the spice of life and the adventure we're on with the Lord. You see He has never changed and He always makes our Christmas celebrations so special because our focus is on Him, not on us. Like the Apostle Paul, we've literally learned that whatever state we're in to be content. Whether we have much or a little, whether our housing is great or lacking some things we'd desire.  Whether we were having a church full of people or whether it was 9 of us - the 7 in our family and one other couple; we've learned to be content.

I think this may be part of the "Peace" that the angelic messengers proclaimed to those shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. There is a contentment that only Jesus can bring to your life no matter what your condition happens to be. The world system wants you to buy in to the lie of Satan that contentment comes from more stuff, the latest, greatest, newest, or whatever happens to be the hot must have item. The world system says the next relationship will be the one, the next job, or whatever. But the void in our lives seems to get bigger and the Lord says "What are you doing"? How long before we realize that the Lord Jesus Christ alone can fill that void our lives? 

Our circumstances have been so dramatically different now for 25 years of marriage; there is no doubt in my mind next Christmas will unfold some unique challenge or situation for us as a family. This one has been different for sure. Last year at this time, we were given a stuffed bear with the recorded heartbeat of our 1st granddaughter Addison Lynn Deason in anticipation of her birth in the spring. Little did we know instead of giving her her first Christmas presents as her "Nana" & "Pops"; we'd not have her with us and that she would in fact be with Jesus whose birth we celebrate. Little did I know I'd be able to feel the movement of my second grandchild in the womb of our eldest daughter at this Christmas and talk with Addison's mommy & daddy online who are expecting grand baby number 3 as well. Seeing first hand new life forming in the wombs of my precious daughters this Christmas causes me once again to take a deep breath and stand in awe and wonder of that night 2000 years ago when a young virgin named Mary gave birth to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I stand in awe that our Lord would come to earth so each member of my family could be forgiven of their sins, that God would call me to serve Him full time as a pastor to proclaim that message of salvation, and that He offers forgiveness to all who will accept it by faith.

I hope you'll never get over the wonderful truth of Christmas that "unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." I don't know what your circumstances are, but I can promise you no matter what they may be, if you'll make Jesus the center of your lives, you'll have peace that only He can provide no matter what adventure you're in at the moment. I hope these Christmas reflections will encourage you, and Merry Christmas; from my little corner of the world to yours...

Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

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