Today’s message is from Pastor Pam Sutherland of the St. Paul United Methodist Church & Fort Gibson United Methodist Church
YESTERDAY MORNING I opened my planner to December to see what activities I needed to include in the newsletter this week. I was startled to see the words “COVID Quarantine” written across the page until I realized that I had opened to December of 2020 rather than 2021. This time last year I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to a procedure I was scheduled to have, and Lyndon and I both began to exhibit symptoms shortly thereafter. It was not the way I wanted to spend the Christmas season! Even though COVID had cancelled all the usual Christmas activities and get-togethers I still had worship services to record for Advent and Christmas, presents to buy, and decorations to put up. Christmas was going to be ruined not only because there was a pandemic in the world, but because it had come to my house too!
Seeing those words in my planner brought back those memories as well as other memories of Christmases that weren’t quite what we were expecting. Like you, I have lost loved ones along the way and those losses brought sadness at Christmas and altered our Christmas traditions in one way or another.
One memory that comes to mind whenever I’m thinking of Christmas traditions altered because of circumstances, is of Christmas when my oldest daughter Becky was 16. She had taken a job at the local nursing home and being the newest hire, was scheduled to work on Christmas day. Her younger siblings, ages 13 and 10 at the time were distraught and asked, “How are we going to have Christmas?” Like most families, we had our set traditions and this was going to ruin Christmas, at least in their minds. I explained that it didn’t matter if we had our Christmas on Christmas Day or some other day. What mattered was keeping Jesus as the focus of Christmas. So I suggested that we have our Christmas morning traditions on Christmas Eve morning. It had all the same “feels” and no one felt as if Christmas had been ruined.
Christmas was not ruined last year either. In fact, because of the pandemic we started a new tradition in our family that I hope will be part of our Christmases well into the future. As my kids grew up and moved to other states, we stopped getting together for Christmas. The pandemic changed that as we learned to use technology that allowed us to be together from four different states. So, on Christmas morning for the first time, we were able to get together from North Carolina, Tennessee, Montana, and Virginia on “Zoom” to wish each other a Merry Christmas, show off our gifts, and share what we would be doing that day. As for us, we spent the day quietly, eating goodies people had dropped off on our porch, and watching “The Nativity” movie to remind us what Christmas is all about.
However you spend Christmas this year, whether you can still enjoy all the traditional Christmas activities or not, Christmas will not be ruined as long as you celebrate the birth of the Savior and remember He is the reason for the season. One day we will celebrate in the very presence of Jesus for all eternity! In the meantime, enjoy the old traditions if you can; make some new ones;, cherish the memories of Christmases past; and look forward with hope to that day when we will all be gathered around the Throne together, celebrating what Christmas is really all about, JESUS! What a day that will be!
Grace and peace,