Christmas, Birth and Death

December 3rd, 2011

Boxing up all the stuff in my apartment.  The death of one phase, the birth of another. 

Contemplating.

Listening to Christmas music on the radio while working. 

Loved Michael Buble’s rendition of, “All I Want For Christmas.”  I know it’s sappy lovey-dovey, but I like it anyways ‘cus it reminds me the most important things in life are the relationships I have and not the stuff I’m given.

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In between songs a lady called in to answer the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” 

Her answer was this, “That I could have just one more day with my husband.  He recently died of heart illness.  We had been married 41 years.” 

I stopped packing to listen.  Through the static I could hear her get choked up.  She paused and I could tell the radio announcer was caught off guard too. 

She continued, “I never knew how it would feel to be a widow.  Now I do.  No matter what, you’re never prepared for this.” 

I looked down at the box I was putting stuff in and thought about how I was carefully preparing for the next few months of my life in Israel.  By next Saturday everything will (hopefully) be prepared. 

Preparation. 

Our family is big on preparation.  But I was struck with the thought, “Am I prepared to die?  Am I be prepared for the inevitable death of my family members someday?  If I get married, would I ever be ready for her death?”

She went on, “I miss my husband.  If I could have just one wish come true this Christmas… it would be to have another day with the man I loved.”

Death.  It comes to each of us.  Even Jesus experienced death.

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit… the earth shook and the rocks split.” (Matthew 27:50-51)

The sting of a loved ones death was also felt by Jesus:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

(John 11:33-36)

Christmas time is a season of hope as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, but no doubt also the season of most loneliness. 

A good friend of mine told me a co-worker (whom he had trained) ended her life earlier this week. 

Loneliness. Tragedy.  Where is the light in this dark world?

“…the people living in darkness
       have seen a great light;
   on those living in the land of the shadow of death
       a light has dawned."
(Matthew 4:16)

As I thought about the lady who was now a widow I remembered that for a Christian there is future hope of seeing believing loved ones who have died. About this hope Paul said:

“Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…”  (2 Cor 1:9-10)

But it seems to me life can be lived superficially with no thought to eternal matters; to life and death; to what is truly important.  It is possible to live for today, for my own gratification.  And frankly it is possible to live as if I will never die.  I do it all the time.

Yet I don’t believe living that type of life of apathy regarding my impending future is best.  There are important things to live for.  As a believer of God’s promises, my citizenship is no longer in this world and I should be living as a stranger, not as one engrossed in its’ wares.

Life is too short to spend on trivialities. Life is serious and not all fun and games. 

“It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.”
(Ecc 7:2)

Listening to this lady’s emotion on the radio touched a nerve, and I indeed took to heart that death is the destiny of every man.

My good friend Chad recently came out of a deep illness.  In allusion to Pilgrim’s Progress I told him he’s been through a dark valley.  He rejoined with, “Well, it sure wasn’t Vanity Fair.”

Yet how often do I find myself caught up in this world, in Vanity Fair? 

I was reading 1 John the other day and hit between the eyes by this statement:

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

Jesus’s birth pointed straight towards his death.  Yet I think it is amazing how His death is what secured life for those who believe.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

There isn’t much point to this post, other than reminding myself and others to try not getting caught up in the craziness of December and the materialism of this Vanity Fair we live in. Savor the relationships.

“Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

I step back and think, “Without the birth of God incarnate there could never have been the death of God incarnate.  And without the death of God incarnate there never could have been the option of life for sinners like me. There never would have been hope.” 

We serve a great God. There is hope.

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