Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for sharing in our joy, and I pray that God poured out His Spirit over your homes this Christmas. Later I'll share a few pictures from our celebration.
The word of the season is bittersweet. As I get older, I recognize that life really is a series of antonyms. More and more, I see the tension of living, the coexistence of pain and beauty.
The day before our family's good news, many in our church gathered around a sweet grandmother whose biopsy revealed aggressive Stage 4 breast cancer that is unresponsive to chemo.
Christmas Eve, an extended family member was in a car accident that broke a lower vertebra. Her husband is out of work, they have three young boys, and she faces a lengthy recovery and possibly a lifetime of pain.
A close friend my age, probably one of the most fit 40 year old women I know, reacted to anesthesia from surgery and now has emphysema. (Did you even know that could happen? I didn't.)
This year, our choir struggled with our Christmas music. Sickness plagued several of us, and I for one never got "attached" to any of the songs. Yet, the morning we sang, three people accepted Christ as Savior. Before the service, the precious ladies I teach, the elders of our church, and our pastor anointed me with oil and prayed for me in advance of my tests. The Holy Spirit filled the room that December morning. People are still talking about the "something different" that marked that service.
The state patrolman who arrived at that young mom's accident told her husband that she should have died. Folks from our hometown have commented on the similarity of circumstances with an accident that claimed the life of a high school friend of mine a few years back.
My friend's surgery with the disturbing side effects revealed that a suspicious nodule on her thyroid was benign.
Living and dying.
Joy and sorrow.
Pain and peace.
Bitter and sweet.
Christmas, this precious season of joy that we mark with carols and lights and the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls, is meaningless without the agony of the Cross. In so many ways, the way we celebrate brushes over the harshness of His coming and the violence of His death. We read of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but ignore their meaning. Our King, our Priest, would suffer greatly in His death that brought us hope and salvation. Beauty for ashes was a costly exchange.
Dying for living.
Sorrow for joy.
Pain for peace.
Bitter for sweet.
Be blessed in 2010,