Monday, December 14, 2015

Paula's Ponderings -- Christmas Present = Christmas Absent

When we were kids, a missionary uncle had one of the big reel-to-reel film projectors and every year around Christmas would show “A Christmas Carol”. That was my first introduction to Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. That film came to mind as I was thinking about Christmas being just two weeks away…

Christmases past are easy: Anxiously waiting to open the presents under the tree – especially the year I got my first Barbie doll! Gatherings at grandparents’ homes with uncles, aunts and cousins and more food than we could possibly eat! There was the wonder of having our first baby just before Christmas and identifying with the Lord’s young parents and being overwhelmed with all the love and joy. I loved celebrating Christmas when our sons were young – their first Christmas programs, the excitement at seeing them open their gifts, and as they grew older watching favorite shows and being together. As an adult I love the music and the decorations; the tradition of jigsaw puzzles with my Mom; hearing my Dad read the Christmas story; and time to sit, relax, visit and especially laugh with family.

I don’t think much about Christmas future. I do vaguely wonder what Christmas will be like in heaven…

It is Christmas present that bothers me. I have decided that this year Christmas present = Christmas absent. Lights are up and Christmas programs are being presented. We are absent. Parents and siblings will gather for time together. We will be absent. For the first time in several years our kids will be together for Christmas. We will be absent. Every time I open my computer these days, I see the adorable smiling face and big blue eyes of our grandson, Eli. This will be his first Christmas. We will be absent.

Phil insisted we decorate, so we have a small tree. But the presents are absent. Thanks to a thoughtful LINKS church, we got some new Christmas albums and have been dutifully playing them… But the caroling is absent. Because we are south of the equator, it is summer here. Cold, wintery weather is absent. Even the ingredients to some of my favorite Christmas treats are absent…

Christmas seems absent. And I’m not sure what to do with that… So I once again turned to His Word. I re-read the prophecies and the accounts of His birth and take solace in re-affirming and knowing that just when He was needed, He appeared. And I wait  – admittedly with tears running down my cheeks – for the sense of His Presence, knowing that just when I am at my lowest and He is needed the most, He will not be absent.

…and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God is with us”. 
– Matthew 1:23