given on Sunday, December 26, 2010
The Christmas cards keep coming in the mail. There is one set, though, that I have to admit are not—my own cards. There they are, all sitting on the desk. I usually write a family letter to update all the family and friends of the year’s news, but it is not even written yet. (And I do insert the word yet because I still have hopes of getting it done.)
All these words that have been written and sent show how much is going on in our lives and how much we all want to share with each other. Have you ever stopped and evaluated what the words are really saying? As I began slowing down and really reading the words in the cards and trying to absorb all the news in the letters, I started thinking about the underlying messages all these words were sharing. I even went back and looked at the various cards I have selected to send out.
I discovered that all too often my words did not share The Word. All too often the words carefully avoid the true message of Christmas. All too often the words dance around the very words we are asked as Christians to share: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, the NIV)
This afternoon, or while you are cleaning up from the season, stop and spend a little time looking over some of the words your family and friends—not to mention yourself—have shared with each other. Just a few of my own cards show my lack of spreading The Word:
- It’s Christmas! May it bring you the best of everything! (a chickadee in a Christmas tree nest)
- Angels light the Way . . . May the star of Christmas light your path throughout the year. (folk-style angles walking through snow following the Star)
- Winter Friends: May the Wonder of Christmas come magically to life for you and your loved ones. (folk-style snowmen with trees, fence, snow and stars)
- May you have a heart warming Christmas and a joyous new year. (typical rural wintery scene with barn, snow, birds)
- A time of sharing, a time of giving, and a time of believing. Merry Christmas (two kids building a snowman with sled, baskets & presents)
- Wishing you warm winter moments . . . bright Christmas memories. (cat and puppy in front of roaring fireplace)
- May the warmth of friendship and the wonders of the season add special joy to your holidays! (smiling snowman with penguins and northern lights)
- May this Christmas season bring you special moments and happy memories. (more contemporary farm with kids, dog, sleds, cat, fence)
- Merry Christmas . . . Hope your holidays will be filled with the wonder and magic of the season. Happy Holidays. (framed, smiling snowman face)
- May Christmas surround you with beauty, touch you with warmth, and fill you with joy. (chickadees on snowy evergreen)
The images and the messages are inviting, eye-appealing, match my personal style, but in each and everyone of them, I found that the message about The Word is not the most important words I am sharing with others. Others have done so much better:
- JESUS: I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. –John 8:12 NIV This Christmas season may the light of Christ’s love shine brightly in your heart and bring peace and joy to you. With warmest blessings at Christmas and in the coming year. [Gene & Dixie]
- Night of Wonder . . . It was a night of wonder, a night of love divine, when the waiting world would see the Light of Heaven shine . . . For a miracle of grace, through a tiny baby’s birth, had brought God’s blessed gift of mercy to the earth. May the wonder of Christmas shine forever in your heart. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. –Matthew 1:21 [Wilma]
- God’s Love: Long ago, one silent night,
God revealed His glory bright;
His own image came to man
For salvation’s matchless plan.
Jesus, Savior, Shepherd, King—
Lord of all to you we bring
Praises, wonder, thanks, and love
For this gift from God above.
. . . Remembering you this Christmas and praying your celebration
brings a heart full of joy as you remember God’s amazing love shown
through His Son, Jesus. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. –Luke 19:10 NKJV [Carol & Carl]
Truth is, I am embarrassed that my own cards are not expressing The Word as clearly as they should. I may read, pray, sing, and even study The Word, but my simple words and expressions are not as strong as I think they should be. Then I looked for some new cards last week and I found two that may show my true sentiments a little better:
- love . . . hope . . . peace . . .Wishing you the kind of Christmas gifts you can keep in your heart. (snowflake on gold background and a filigree border with black and gold engraving)
- Every year the world gets another chance at peace and hope and love . . . Every year the world gets another Christmas. (a square grid of different ornaments, one being the world, primarily glue tones on brown)
These words seem so much more appropriate. The simple words of “love, hope, peace” are truly what I want others to know, to experience by knowing God. These words represent the concepts that are the result of loving God and living out his Golden Rule. These words are gifts that we can create, we can give, and we can receive simply by loving one another. These words are The Word, and Christmas is when The Word came down on earth to show us how to live. The Word is love, is hope, and is peace.
And in the words of Bishop Schnase, whose card says so much with such simple words:
We pray with you
that the Grace and Peace of Christ
may bless you and yours
and throughout the New Year.
Thank you for your ministry.
Christmas Day may be over, but the holiday season is still in session. In fact, we have almost two more weeks with Epiphany still to come on January 6. Therefore today, t here is still time to celebrate the arrival of The Word by using our simple words to share the good news of The Word, of love, of hope, and of peace.
Dear Heavenly Father,
What a weekend of wonder we have experienced.
Family and friends, food and fun, and gifts galore
Have kept us busy and tired.
The noise of these days has blocked
The Word in our minds
And hidden your love from us.
Today, let us look toward a new year
To use our simple words
To share words of love, hope, and peace.
The Word is with us,
The Word is our mission.
The Word transforms the world.