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Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:13-18; Philippians 1:18b-2
My earliest memories of Christmas are visions of my family, friends, and Christmas gatherings. The Christmas Eve program at church – candlelight, favorite hymns, and the little brown paper sack filled with peanuts in the shell and candy canes. I can see – and smell – my mom baking Christmas cookies, decorating the house, and carefully hanging the treasured decorations on the tree that my dad had cut at the local tree farm. Mom would display what I thought was the most beautiful Bible, open to the first chapter of Luke with the velvet marker carefully laid inside the pages, beside her nativity scene. The sound of the records she played, the Ray Conniff Singers Christmas albums, is so very clear as I reminisce.
As we celebrate this Advent season, I’m filled with nostalgia, and yet, I will look to the future for signs of God’s promises yet to be fulfilled. Prophets shared the hope of salvation and a savior for God’s people, and God has been faithful to his promise (Luke 1:69-70). His great gift was delivered in a manger many, many starry nights ago, but this story – His story – is not yet finished. Advent is a time of remembering and hope for the future – a time for us to rejoice as we pass on the stories of what has been, what is, and what is yet to come.
Today I give thanks for my family and friends, for the love of my parents, and for our loving God. Though my mom can no longer bake or decorate the way she once loved to do, I see beautiful changes happening in our growing family. My dad has taken on a caregiver role, and he cares for my mom with all the love he has to give. Their grandchildren, some of whom are now married, are excited to take on a different role in the family. They have joined the rest of the adults in baking, celebrating, and decorating for the holidays at my parents’ house. I see visions of our family as it has been, as it is now, and I am filled with joy and hope for the future.
May God be with you and yours during this joyous season. Blessings to you all in the New Year!
By: Joni Mardesen, Director of Human Resources & Benefits Officer of The Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church