Christmas with Jesus
By Chris Rathbone
This time of year is very special for a lot of families. These last 2 months of each year allows many to spend time with family and friends. We all know that the many responsibilities of life leave us with precious little time to spend with the family and friends we love. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. In my family, we are so busy in life just in our little family that we often don’t get to see our parents, siblings, and extended family as much as we want. So, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations allow us to get together.
Just a few days before Thanksgiving a family in my church had a loved one pass away. Another family I know had a young family member who was tragically killed in a car accident. One of my boys’ basketball games was canceled when a player on the other team had a family member pass away. More than likely you’ve also heard of several instances where tragedy has come into a family and perhaps it was even your family. No family is immune to the fact that death can come at any time, whether it’s the holidays or not.
As I sat in the church during the funeral service today, my heart went out to all the families that have experienced loss. This year families will go through the many traditions that they share during the holidays without someone they love. As a pastor, I often hear how the “first” special occasions without a loved one are the hardest. Whether it’s the first birthday, anniversary, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. they are all hard to get through. When my grandparents passed away a lot of things changed in my family. We were accustomed to always going to their house at certain times. Every year was the same and we all knew we were going to get together with family and celebrate. Over the years, God has allowed us to form new family traditions that are a blessing, but I always remember those wonderful times from years gone by.
This year many of you are facing a first in your family. It was the first Thanksgiving without your loved one. Christmas is not far away and, in your heart, you’re already dreading not being able to share those special traditions with your Dad, Mom, spouse, child, sibling, best friend, etc. The special days that you shared with them just won’t be the same. Every one of us has gone through these feelings.
Let me share something that touched my heart. Driving down the road last year, my wife and I were talking about how the 1st anniversary of my father-in-law’s death was coming up and how it was going to be a tough day. My oldest son overheard us talking and spoke up. He said, “You know what helps me? I don’t think of it as the 1st anniversary of Papaw’s death, but that Papaw has been in heaven with Jesus for a year!” (Out of the mouth of babes!)
Friends this year may be a tough year for you and your family. These will be the first of many occasions your family will go through without someone you love dearly. Just remember that those who belong to Jesus are with Him now! This Christmas will be the best one ever for those who are spending it with Jesus. Because He was born into this world, lived, died, and rose again, we have a hope that cannot be taken away from us. One day Jesus will come to get all of us, and we will never be separated again. Trust your Savior to help you and your family to form new traditions beginning this year. Let us look forward to the time when our Lord comes, and we will all spend Christmas with Jesus for eternity! Praise God!
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.
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