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Friday, December 24, 2010

Reconciled: A Christmas Gift

Treasured friend,


It’s Christmas. Despite the carols, the decorations, the parties, the joy-to-the-world frivolity, I’ve had a hard time feeling Christmas in my heart this year. Mom and I never did go Christmas shopping, unless you count a handful of late-night forays onto websites to choose a few necessities for each other (things we would have bought for ourselves anyway). Maybe it’s the lack of seeing children crying on the mall Santa’s lap that kept us from getting into the spirit of the season. Or the lack of hearing those “silver bells,” unless you count the one lone Salvation Army ringer at the grocery store check-out. It certainly can’t be the lack of snow—if there’s one thing the Midwest has this year, it’s a “white Christmas.” I wouldn’t mind a little less white, truth be told.

Maybe it’s the combination of all those things. But it’s probably more than that. I think the culprit is more the numbness of fatigue, thanks to a year’s worth of accumulated hours of sleep lost. That, and a drained emotional tank. The lows we’ve experienced in the health department and the bounce of a few unexpected highs have pulled the plug on our annual allotment of feelings. Our emotions haven’t known what to prepare for on any given morning, so they’ve given up, packed it in, and left the premises.

I’m under no illusion that we’re alone in these bah-humbug feelings. I suspect that most caregivers who are looking back over a year of challenges are having a hard time trumping up the Christmas spirit.

In my blue funk, I turned—where else?—to the Word. I’ve always loved Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light” Colossians 1:11-12 (HCSB). And I pray that prayer for our household and yours this Christmas Eve morning. May He give you power. May He multiply your endurance. May you find joy in serving Him by serving your ailing loved one.

But then I skipped down a verse and found the true source of joy. I quoted it in fancy type in the bookmark column of our family newsletter. And I’d like to quote it here for you. It speaks of the birth we celebrate in this season—and Who that child in the manger really is. Let me list it out for you. As you read it, try to meditate on this description of the Christ of Christmas, as I have.

The Centrality of Christ

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

For God was pleased ⌊to have⌋ all His fullness dwell in Him,

and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross— whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Colossians 1:15-20 (HCSB)


To say He’s powerful is the grossest understatement. To say He has authority is a puny way to describe Him. He is all. Everything. In it. Creator of it. Lord of it. Head of it. Beginning of it. End of it.

And how has He used that power and authority? To reconcile everything to Himself. The word picture I see is of His long and strong arms pulling me to the safety of His embrace—where I find peace and rest as He works to set all things right for the coming kingdom, even though they’ve gone woefully wrong in this world.

That’s the Christmas spirit--the spirit of not just a baby, but of the Mighty King making Himself become fragile, so He could have a peaceful relationship with you and me. It's never really been about trumped up feelings of nostalgia at seeing candy canes and shimmering tinsel and jingling bells and twinkling lights. It's all about the powered-down rest of one reconciled with her Maker and safe in His embrace because He made the effort to make it so.

My prayer for you is that you’ll find that reconciled peace in His arms today, and in the days to come. And that this picture of the Christ of Christmas will become a source of courage and strength to you.

Joyful blessings to you and your loved ones,

Julie


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