Jim Croce wrote a song that begins,
If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ’til Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
Today I would like to share some of my Christmas memories. There are three memorable Christmases in my heart that are worlds apart for different reasons.
The first Christmas was 1995; it was the last one my family shared with our mom. Christmas 1996 was the first one spent without her, and I also had a miscarriage. But God eclipsed those memories with a far better one, in 1997; the year Noah was born.
Noah was not yet two months old when our pastor’s wife asked us if we would like to take part in the Christmas pageant in the roles of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. It was the first time we would attend the Christmas service as a family and be in a Christmas pageant together.
That night Don and I wore long robes; Noah was swaddled in a whitish blanket over her two-piece pink and white outfit.
Don and I watched the Nativity story unfold from the sideline; Noah was sleeping soundly in my arms. The choir and children began to sing – it was our cue to walk in. Don knelt down and I sat beside him as Away in the Manger began.
Holding Noah in my arms made me wonder if this was how Mary felt when she held Jesus in her arms. I thought of why He came and how He had come to me and saved me. I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness to me. Beside me was the man God gave to me in marriage and in my arms, Noah; they were the evidence of God’s faithful promise to restore the years the locust had eaten (Joel 2:25-26).
As I wiped the tears from my eyes, Noah woke up and stretched. I tried to cover her, but it was too late! Little arms covered in pink and white stretched out and she yawned with a sigh. Everyone laughed. I sat her up and she blinked at the lights. She quietly looked at the children who were singing around her.
And then, all too soon, it was over. I have looked for photos of that night, and have not found any; but that precious memory is imprinted on my mind and heart forever.
I have learned that God may take away from us, but He ALWAYS gives back. Every Christmas has been a reminder of this fact. Through the sorrows and joys His constant care and attention, grace, mercy, peace, and His amazing, unconditional love remain.
May the God of all Creation, the God who came to earth as a baby, who lived, who died, who resurrected, and who now sits at the right hand of the Father, bless you in manifold ways this Christmas. Amen.