This past week, we have asked our Pine Haven residents that question. Their answers (see a sampling later in this issue) are relatable and moving - the blessings of seeing family and friends, enjoying the children’s excitement, gazing at the Christmas lights and decorations, and eating good food.
These are things that most of us take delight in!
But even more than these seasonal blessings, our residents testify to the difference Jesus has made in our world and each of our lives. It’s the peace God gives even during life’s challenges; it’s the gift of gathering and praying together with fellow believers. These blessings are real no matter our age, but as we go through life, we are less likely to take them for granted.
For me, Christmas means…
…LIGHT. Yes, the Christmas lights and decorations are beautiful, but their purpose is to testify to Jesus, the Light of the world! The prophet Isaiah speaks to the bleak darkness of our world, caught in the grip of sin and despair: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples…” I grew up in Alaska, where the darkness of winter can get overwhelming - but how much deeper is the spiritual darkness of our world? But God has not left us in the dark -- “the LORD will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you” (Isaiah 60:2). The promise of God is that no matter how imposing the darkness in our world, God’s glorious light is so much greater!
…LOVE. What compelled God to send his Son into our lost world? It was a deep, self-sacrificial love that would ultimately take Jesus to the cross. While we often are drawn to the peaceful manger scene and the angels praising God in the starry sky, we cannot forget why Jesus came. It was to enter into our very messy and broken world and to give his life for us. Paul writes, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). How much does this hurting, divided, and lost world need to hear how much God loves us?
…HOPE. Without Christ, there is no hope. Paul writes, “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ… without hope and without God in the world…” (Ephesians 2:12). Residents here at Pine Haven often tell me, “I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the Lord.”
It’s true -- how empty and meaningless would our lives be without God’s hope for today and for eternity?
This Christmas season, I invite you to take the time to reflect – “What does Christmas mean to me?” And as you read some of the responses from our Pine Haven seniors, you’ll see why “the longer I serve him, the sweeter He grows!”
Merry Christmas and God’s continued blessings to you and your family,
Pine Haven Chaplain