Today is Christmas. It is a day of birth. The gospel writer Luke speaks of it. “10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This is very important. It marks the entry into this world the One whom the prophets of old had spoken. It marks the entry into this world the One who would lay aside all claims of royalty and live as a servant to all. It marks the entry into this world the One who would make the journey from the manger to the cross securing for fallen man his redemption and forgiveness. This is reason to celebrate. If no Christmas, there is no Easter. If no Easter, there is no hope. It is no secret that this is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to this season more than any other. This season brings with it a sense of amazement and child-like wonder. The carols, family gatherings, gift giving, and the sense of good will on behalf of and toward our fellow man only add to the enjoyment of the true reason for this season. To God I am thankful for this day of birth for it brings a reason to believe and One in whom to believe.
Today is a day of death as well. I lost my dad on December 25th, 2012 after a brief six-month battle with lung cancer. It still doesn’t seem real. I remember the events of that day clearly. We were spending Christmas vacation with Terri’s parents in Tallahassee, Florida. Dad was in a nursing home in Tifton, Georgia, about two hours away. We had seen him the day before and knew his conditioning was worsening quickly. We received a call from my step-mother around 6:00am that if we wanted to see him we needed to do so. We made the trip to Tifton. The Hospice nurse was in the room and shared with us what we could expect over the next few hours. I have sat with many, many families as the same information was shared. I must admit, it was very different being on the other side of the conversation. I had the privilege of being in the room alone with my dad when he took his last breath. To have been there to do so, I am very thankful.
My relationship with my dad was better the last ten years than it was the previous thirty. As I shared at his funeral, my dad battled many personal demons that at time led to turmoil and distance. My dad was a Christian. He came to know the Jesus as his Savior through a faith-based alcohol treatment program at the rescue mission where he was living. For this I am thankful. I miss my dad terribly. There are many things I would love to share with him. I would give anything to be able to join him at the Waffle House (his favorite restaurant) and talk over a cup of coffee. One day. Two profound events. Countless emotions. I am thankful that the baby born in the manger is now the Prince of Peace. More than ever, the words of Isaiah 26:3 ring true, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts in You”.