Three days after Christmas I sat in a sanctuary still beautifully decorated for the Christmas season. Greenery and candles with white lights were intermingled along the stage in an elegant way. To the left hand side, surrounded by the decorations was a simple feeding trough, manger with a doll wrapped in swaddling cloths, Baby Jesus.
Just a few feet from this joyous, beautiful scene sat my grandmother’s open casket.
Life and Death and Christmas.
Yes, Jesus was the baby born to die and, by doing so, give life.
Yes, because Jesus lived and died and lived again, my grandmother had been dead in her sin, but by the gift of faith God gave her, she now, physically dead, lives eternally.
Yes, because Jesus lived and died and lived again, I have hope. Hope that my sins and old nature have been put to death. Hope that I will one day be reunited with my Grandmother in an eternal life after my physical death. Hope that I can live this day the way God created me live it – alive in Christ.
I would not have chosen this week to have been the week when my grandmother died and her earthly life remembered. There will not be a Christmas that passes that I will not stop and reflect on her passing. It could be an incredibly sad thing to lose such a close loved one to death during this season the is supposed to be so festive.
But instead of just commemorating these days associated with her death with sadness, and loss – I will forever remember the Baby Jesus beside my grandmother’s coffin. I celebrate the reality of Christ’s incarnation and advent with a greater, deeper joy than I could not have otherwise celebrated.
Just take a few minutes to reflect on this Christmas carol below. The tune and words are basic enough to teach preschoolers, but the words will forever be so much deeper and more meaningful to me. . .
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle ’til morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.
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