This is the time of year when people are quite preoccupied with giving—and receiving—gifts. It is a time of Christmas shopping, planning, decorations and songs. But even in those wonderful Christmas songs there is at times a tone of melancholy as this season of the year more than any other brings to bear the difficulties of life as well as the joys.
This is the first Christmas Joyce’s family will experience without the presence of her father, who died this past March. Over these past several months everyone in her family has seen how important he was to all of us and how much we miss his presence.
As I thought about that it caused me to reflect a bit on others we have lost. There were several in our church family who lost loved ones or friends. Here are the names of those of our South Fork members who have passed from this life over the past 18 months. As you read over this list, reflect on your own memories with them, and ask God to bring “comfort and joy” during the moments when their absence is especially visible.
Barbara Lowery J. W. Athan Bill Eldridge Peggie Johnston
Polly Ballard Betty Matthews Janet Stewart
One of the things that Barbara Lowery and I said a lot to each other during her difficult battle was that each day, each moment, each breath, is a gift. Those are gifts we are not entitled to; gifts we are not owed; gifts we do not deserve. And so we are thankful and grateful for each one and view each as a gift of God’s grace.
And then there is the greatest gift of all, “the reason for the season.” While we of course do not know the exact day on which Jesus was born, like many in our society, we join the angels and shepherds and others rejoicing that such a gift was given, such a price was paid. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” (John 3:16) “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)