A blessed Christmas to you and those you love. I’m grateful that in my part of the Christian world, we don’t stop celebrating when Christmas Day is done. Instead, we continue celebrating through the short season of Christmastide — better known as the 12 Days of Christmas. I don’t want to stop singing “Joy to the World” or “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, so I’m just going to keep on singing at least until Epiphany on January 6! Praise the Lord — Jesus has come into the world!
And I pray that Jesus has come into your world in a special way this year. He certainly has for Prince Philip and me. With this being the first Christmas in two years without the dread disease cancer competing for center stage, it was especially … well, special! We prayed early in the Fall that God would allow us to fully enter into the season of Advent and then to truly celebrate the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem long ago and His birth in our hearts today! He has certainly granted our prayer.
Each day in Advent has been somewhat magical as we waited and planned and prepared. This year, unlike the previous two years, the house was fully decorated both inside and out! And with expectant hearts, we waited. Christmas cards and Christmas gifts were mailed off — actually in time to arrive before December 25! And we waited with holy anticipation. With our three Christmas Eve services on Tuesday evening, we watched God’s people of all ages joyfully celebrate the miraculous birth. But we found out hearts still waiting.
Then with the dawn of Christmas morning, our miracle arrived and the joy of His birth came in like a flood! Every Christmas carol was touched with the glorious reality: Jesus has come into our world! Every Communion wafer placed into every open hand — a beautiful symbol of Jesus being placed into every waiting heart.
“Oh Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend on us we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today.”
There is a beauty that is found when we wait for our miracle. Oh, we silly human beings — we want what we want when we want it. But in Advent, God teaches us to wait. And when we do, the beauty of waiting becomes fully known to us as our miracle — the one we have been waiting for — is placed into our expectant and open hearts.
It’s been two years of waiting for Prince Philip and me. Christmas 2011 was overshadowed by a fresh and devastating cancer diagnosis. So we waited. Christmas 2012 was a time of having just made it through a year of cancer treatment. So we waited some more. By 2013, we had learned how to wait. We were better at waiting this year — we were more practiced, less impatient, more intentional. Plus this year we knew we were that much closer to our miracle — to be free of cancer and free of painful treatment and surgery.
It was worth waiting for. A miracle always is.
But this year I also am mindful that I have friends I love who are still waiting — and so I wait with them. Some are close to the finish line that Prince Philip and I have reached and have just a little more waiting to do — praise God! Some are freshly diagnosed and are waiting for their treatment plan — so hard to wait. Some are in the height of their cancer storm — please pray. And yes, there are those who are coming to the end of their struggle and are waiting for Jesus to come and take them to their heavenly home — their waiting is the holiest kind.
I have learned a lot about waiting in these past two years and what I have learned has been captured in the exerience of this year’s Advent and Christmas miracle. For those who have a kind Savior, we wait with an assurance — a promise of a miracle. We wait with an expectation that Jesus will come into our world.
If you are waiting this year, be assured — be encouraged! Waiting is hard, but waiting is godly business. For the Christian, waiting is sanctified by the truth that no matter what circumstances in which we find ourselves, no matter what it is that we think we are waiting for: Jesus is coming into our world.
May the Babe born in Bethlehem who became a Suffering Savior for you and for me, bless and keep you in this Christmastide!
Behold, I bring good news of great joy which will be for all people.
For unto you is born is SAVIOR WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD!
Rev. Cathie+ and Prince Philip