The following is my Sunday article for The News Tribune (Tacoma). This one definitely hit close to home as I reflect on Christmas and how the pandemic has changed things this year. To God be the glory!
I am beginning to accept the reality that Christmas will be different this year. I think part of the issue was that I was living in a state of denial. Can you relate to that? But I was snapped out of my fantasy world the other day, when my wife started menu planning for Christmas for just the four of us. “What?!? Wait a second, we do not menu plan for Christmas, we are supposed to be packing.” You see, normally we would be preparing for our two-week Christmas break that would take us to the Midwest (Minnesota and South Dakota), Arizona and then back here to Western Washington. It is the “Christmas triangle”, as we affectionately call it. It was quite a trip as we had to book a total of four flights to complete our family adventure. Now, we are menu planning which just does not seem right. And then this morning, I heard on the radio the song, “Where are you Christmas?” This is how it begins: “Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? Where is the laughter, you used to bring me? Why can’t I hear music play? My world is changing. I’m rearranging. Does that mean Christmas changes too? Where are you Christmas? Do you remember, the one you used to know? I’m not the same one. See what the time’s done. Is that why you have let me go?”
That song begins with a harsh reality as Christmas will be upon us soon. And with the arrival of Christmas, another holy day celebration in the midst of a restrictive pandemic. Maybe you, too, are asking “Where are you Christmas?” So much has been taken away from us this year: Families having to settle for virtual gatherings, loved ones being isolated for their safety, church traditions being altered, and so much more. A vaccine is on the way, but the end is still a ways off. I almost do not remember what life was like before the pandemic. But with all the lamenting about what we do not have or cannot do, there is one constant that will never, ever change: God’s love for you through Jesus Christ. That is what Christmas is all about and that is something the pandemic cannot take away. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow – and forever.
Christmas has not gone anywhere. Christmas is here, every day and always. The promise of Christmas belongs to God and He has given it to you through Jesus Christ. As the song ends, “Oh, I feel you Christmas. I know I’ve found you. You never fade away, oh, The joy of Christmas, Stays here inside us, Fills each and every heart with love. Where are you Christmas? Fill your heart with love.” Cling to that truth – the truth that the promises of Christmas, through Jesus Christ, are for you every single day, pandemic or no pandemic. My friends, God loves you. Where are you Christmas? You are right here, always and forever. Merry Christmas everyone and Amen.