For our family, the focus of Christmas was Christmas Eve. Yes, we shopped for presents, listened to Christmas music, put up a Christmas tree, looked forward to posole and tamales Christmas Eve, spent time with Joan’s family in Albuquerque or mine in Kansas, and opened presents Christmas morning. But, from the time our children were small, we always looked forward to a Christmas Eve church service followed by a family time.
That time started with reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (with each member rubbing the fuzzy surface of Santa’s clothes), then several children’s books built around Jesus’ birth. Next, I would read about His birth from the Bible and we would have a short time of prayer. The kids would then go off to bed while Joan and I finished wrapping presents.
As our children became adults and we began adding grandchildren, we continued meeting at our house for Christmas and the Christmas Eve service followed by the family time (without changes – including the mandatory rubbing of Santa’s clothes).
Then the Lord sent Joan and me to Africa and we missed the tradition for 6 years. In the U.S. the meeting place moved to our daughter’s home since she had children and our son was not yet married. But, other than that, Christmas Eve was the same.
In Nigeria, things were different. The months leading up to Christmas were marked by an increased rate of armed robberies. And there were no Christmas Eve services because it was too dangerous to be out after dark. So Christian families gathered in their homes early. There was little outward evidence of Christmas and, because of unreliable phone service, the likelihood that we could communicate with our children in the U.S. was slim to none. But we had God’s Word, knew His abiding presence, and had experienced His utter faithfulness, and they were more than enough.
Now that Joan and I are back in the U.S., we still meet at our daughter’s home as they did when we were gone. And now that we have grown grandchildren (as well as an infant grandson), the tradition still holds, always ending with Scripture.
The time in Nigeria was a real blessing to us in many ways. One of them was in moving more of the Point of Christmas more from our heads to our hearts. No matter the tradition of the culture where one is living, there are things that are firm and unchangeable.
Particularly that “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son..” By itself, that fact is an absolute wonder! And He did it for a purpose “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). The accounts of His birth carry evidence that Jesus met all the requirements for the long awaited Savior of the world; the only One who could reconcile us to God as we put our faith in Him.
At the end of the day, our confidence and comfort are in Him and Him alone. What a great privilege we have to be able to celebrate His birth openly and without fear!
May the reality of His presence fill you with His peace and joy this Christmas and always.
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The Women’s Serving Team is hosting a Mugs & Muffins event August 10th from 9:00 – 11:00am in the Fellowship Hall. Christine Leggett will be leading us in a discussion about the spiritual battle we each have with the desires of our heart. It will be a morning of fellowship, rich discussion and encouragement as we come together to study God’s Word. Praying you can join us. Don’t forget your favorite coffee mug! Please RSVP to Christine if you need childcare.
You can go on a mission trip and never leave Albuquerque. International Students Incorporated (ISI) helps international students when they arrive in the U.S. ISI has a chapter at UNM helping pick up students as they arrive at the airport, providing temporary home stays, helping find housing, English as a second language training and friendship partners. A new school year is getting started with hundreds of international students arriving at UNM. Please consider helping in one of the ways noted above. Alternatively, we will be providing lunch for students and volunteers on Wednesday, August 7 (signup sheets will be in the foyer). If you are interested in helping or just want more information please contact Vince Tidwell.
MCC’s Shine Partnership is hosting a dessert night Wednesday, August 14 at 7:00pm at Ashley Procter’s house! Current Shine volunteers, anyone curious about what Shine is, or those interested in becoming a Shine volunteer are invited! Contact Ashley if you have questions or need directions.
Save the Date: MCC Elders are hosting a 4-week Foundations Class starting September 15 and running through the first week in October. This class is designed to better help you get to know MCC - who we are, what we believe and why, and how to get connected. Please sign up with Sarah.