‘It is the most wonderful time of the year!’ But, perhaps it is not for you or your family or your friends?
Christmas has always been a joyful time for me. I like the entire idea of the holiday! When I first began attending First Presbyterian Church, in Carbondale, Illinois, it was during the holiday season. We are having Cookie Sunday at our church,… this Sunday is Cookie Sunday. This is a time where our deacons take cookies to all of our ill and shut in members as well as the communal enjoyment of holiday treats after the Sunday service. It was Cookie Sunday the first Sunday that we attended First Presbyterian, in 1998 and a wonderful, elderly couple, Evelyn and Harold Engilking brought us Cookes to our home in Elkville, which is a full fifteen miles from Carbondale. They told us how much they enjoyed our visiting the church and invited us back next Sunday…and we returned the next Sunday…and we felt wanted!
I have been made aware of three deaths this week of family associated to people that I know or am friends with. Death always carries a heavy burden on the loved ones that remain…but it seem especially heavy at Christmas. We were talking last evening and reflecting on the importance of life. So often we are actively planing our next move on the ladder of success and do not realize that, ‘this night thy soul shall be required of thee.’
The scripture tells us that we, ‘tear down are barns and build bigger,’ while truly we do not see the forest for the trees. We believe that it is all about wining! The current political discussion surrounding impeachment is a stellar example. Truth and facts and logical systematic evidence seem not to matter….But rather the reflexive rhetoric of a team who wants to win.
Illness can change our perception of our role on earth and the purpose of life. The holidays exacerbate the feeling of loneliness the death of a loved one or the illness of ourselves or someone that is close to us, or the loss of a job.
We have loved Arnold’s Market in our town, Carbondale! We heard, the last time that we were there, about a week ago, that they were closing their doors on the 18th of the month. We were devastated! I pondered the feelings that the employees must be experiencing at this sudden news. Christmas is a large magnifying glass!
Last year at this time MJ had just undergone spine surgery. We were hopeful that the operation would be successful in alleviating her terrible pain…and it was. Many members or our church stopped by to visit and bring us dinner to eat and cookies for our encouragement and sustenance!
So, what is Christmas to you…if you are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation? Or what is Christmas to you if your father just passed away or you spouse or your child? Statistics illustrate that suicide are up doing the holiday season.
How do the elderly feel as they watch the Christmas movies on television and see the cheerful and bright holiday decorations on the Christmas Tree in their Nursing Home or their assisted care facility?
What do the homeless think as they sit by the door of Macy’s in New York or watch as the holiday partiers enter the Ritz Hotel or many other upscale establishment for the numerous Christmas parties that are occurring at the writing of this blog?
Two years ago MJ and I were the invited guests of Park West Gallery’s art show. It was at the lRitz Carlton in St. Louis, Missouri. There were the most magnificent holiday decorations…and Christmas Teddy Bears that were the size of real bears! The food, that was provided by the Gallery was divine and the complimentary drinks were wonderful. Needless to say we did not have, a seeming, care in the world for the four days that we were there.
But, how is the holiday enjoyment for the sick person who is battling a chronic illness? I doubt that there is a Ritz Carlton or a bar that you can order any drink that you desire, complimentary, or Christmas Bears?
Let us remember that the holiday season that brings us so much joy…brings others…loneliness and pain.
Shall we welcome them in their pain? Shall we demonstrate Christ’s love at the celebration of his birth?