Christmas Blessings Far Outweigh Christmas Rush Hassles

          Did you survive the Christmas rush? For some, the Christmas celebration is still happening. My kids and grandkids don’t arrive until today, and our Christmas Day is Thursday. We’ll all be together for approximately 60 hours, and we’ll make each moment count.

          With the convenience of online shopping, my gift buying was mostly hassle-free, but we still hit several local stores, endured long lines, dodged impatient drivers navigating the four-way stops at The Pavillion, and met mostly pleasant shoppers.

          One electronics purchase didn’t work, so I went back to the big box operation in the middle of the complex for the return. I was third in line, and only one register was open. The lady in front of me had about 15 grocery items in her cart. She returned every single item. The employee behind the counter scanned every item, chit-chatting with the lady, and then the customer, after the return was complete, re-bought every item again! The transaction took forever, and the line behind me was getting longer.

          I’m thinking, “Why won’t they open another register?” About that time, another lady comes in, opens a register, waves another customer forward who wasn’t even in line, and the customer checks out one bottle of wine, and then the employ ignores the returns line and piddles around behind the counter.

          I confess I almost lost my Christmas cheer. Yet, when you ponder the big picture, the blessings far outweigh the stressors that come with Christmas prep.

          This year, I observed a Christmas miracle unfold. My brother Keith became a diabetic at age 21. His health has grown worse in recent years. He’s been on kidney dialysis and has been wearing an insulin pump. He’s been on the transplant list for a kidney and pancreas for two years. Two times, he received THE CALL to come for organ transplant, then a minutes later, received a second call. False alarm. 

          Wednesday morning, November 29th, he got THE CALL. He and his wife Trisa travelled to Gainesville, Florida, to Shands Medical Center, and after an afternoon of testing and prep, he had surgery starting at 9:30 p.m. Two surgical teams replaced a kidney and his pancreas. He was in ICU, then intermediate care, and then moved to a regular room. After a rough stretch, they opened him back up and adjusted his new parts. His total stay was two-and-a-half weeks and he is recovering nicely. So far, so good. God provided and answered prayer.

          Another blessing was being able to get away and drive my mother to Gainesville to visit Keith and Trisa in the hospital. It was a quick trip, but we both got to “lay eyes” on Keith and see firsthand how he was doing.

          Preaching the Christmas story is always a personal blessing. Any day you get to preach God’s Word is a good day, but I especially love to preach about the birth of Jesus. I love the music, the worship and the special emphases of the Advent season.

          Another blessing was having two grandsons born this year, Nolan and Connor. Still another is having my oldest daughter move back to the area after living away for many years. Yet another is God opening a door for my son to move into a new ministry setting immediately after Christmas.

          That first Christmas must have been a whirlwind for Mary. The angel’s visit announcing she would be the mother of Jesus, moving in with her cousin Elizabeth after discovering she was pregnant, the hard trip to Bethlehem, delivering Jesus in a stable, the visit from the shepherds. Luke sums up her response to this excitement in Luke 2:19: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

          The language is interesting. Mary continued to guard all these things closely. It was as if Mary said very little, for her experiences were too profound and sacred. She was part of a miracle, and she was deeply moved.

          She pondered these things in her heart. The original meaning of pondered is weighed. She considered thoughtfully and prayerfully each amazing circumstance and what each moment meant concerning this child.

          What are you pondering in your heart? What about this Christmas especially stirred your soul? Have you taken time to reflect on what God showed you this Christmas?

Dr. David Chancey