Life is made up of moments, not days and weeks and years as much as moments. At this time of year as we dress our Christmas tree, set candles around the house, stir up delicious scents in the kitchen, deliver little gifts of cheer, ring the Salvation Army bell, open Christmas cards, knit tiny shoes, or wrap gifts for each member of the family, I’m reminded of moments that make me shiver with delight or shed a tear or hum a tune.
The words of Luke 2 play through my mind as I set up a nativity scene: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…” When I was about ten years old, my Sunday school teacher asked me to memorize and recite Luke 2:8-14 in front of the whole church. A classmate would recite the first verses of that chapter. That was a big thrill to me. I memorized it and have treasured it ever since and am thankful this very minute for that Sunday school teacher, and for that moment!
Tomorrow is December 20, Charles’ and my 48th wedding anniversary. We were married in my home. My Mom worked hard to make everything just right. I had a beautiful wedding dress. We had music and candles and poinsettias and lots of holly! At one part of the ceremony Charles and I stepped over, each holding a lit candle, to Grandmother’s little desk where a large unlit candle waited for us. We said the words from Ruth together about “Your people will be my people, your God my God…” as we very shakily lit that candle and blew ours out. It was a forever moment, a sealing moment, romantic and practical and absolutely dear.
Our first son was born November 25, 1968, and that Christmas, too, was our first one in Cairo, our first one in a house instead of an apartment. It was one of our most special ones. We hardly had anything except each other! But we were happier than pigs in the sunshine! What a fun time we had dressing our first Christmas tree! I made our ornaments from orange juice cans with bits of felt glued on and a yarn loop through a nail hole at the top.
Remember those moments? The instant your children first saw their presents on Christmas morning? The moment you realized you hadn’t turned the oven off when you thought you did and your very best dressing was cooked so hard you almost needed an axe to cut it? The time someone unexpectedly came home and there he/she stood at your door? The first bike, the first guitar, the first Game Boy! The sight of your little granddaughter cuddling her baby doll under the branches of the Christmas tree!
Maybe, as I do, you have some sorrowful moments that come up too. Like the Christmas my mother had just died and we were missing her so much we could hardly sing but we did anyway. Or the first year after Charles’ dad died when we gathered around the tree and gave him tributes. There are moments that jolt the heart like the words “You have cancer; it’s stage two. You will have to have more surgery.”
When I hear “Silent Night” I almost instantly feel the sting of tears, tears of remembrance of times gone by, tears of joy in the eternity of Christ, tears of anticipation, simply tears because, I guess, I’m a woman and I cry easily!
There is that moment when the old year leaves and the new one comes. It’s a second in time, a single tick! Your mind tries to wrap around the bigness of eternity, the reach of time from one age to another, and then you take a deep breath and offer a quick prayer for God to show you the way. Then you eat one more cookie because when day breaks, you’ll be starting that diet!
I pray for you, dear reader, that you will have an extraordinary Christmas full of wonder and delight and that your New Year will bring you peace, love, and joy immeasurable. I hope that you know Christ and will cling to Him. If you don’t, please consider right now seeking him with every ounce of energy you have. Find a believer and ply him/her with questions. Your time will be well spent, every last moment of it!