Though my mother loved Christmas decorations and the legend of Santa Claus, she was clear with her children about the true meaning of Christmas. The holiday would not pass without the telling of the holy story.
That brings me to my favorite childhood Christmas memory of all.
One of the words I use to describe my mother is resourceful. She used what she had to run our household, and she made sure that we children did the same. Money was scarce, and we didn’t ask for much. Perhaps that is what made Christmas so special for us. After a full year of not asking, we received something.
Reading Mr. Jones, Meet the Master, a book of sermons and prayers, triggered a significant change to my life. A friend encouraged me to buy a paperback we saw at a yard sale, I read it, and, through Peter Marshall’s words, I met a Jesus that no one had been telling me about. In these sermons, Jesus seemed so personal — someone I could really know — and I wondered why he was not being presented to me in that way.
God also used Marshall’s sermons to show my lack of Bible doctrine, even though I had been attending a church regularly for almost two years. I questioned and eventually left that church, and God led me to one that did not stray from the Gospel and the Bible’s truths.
Years later, during one of our church library giveaways, I found this 1953 hardcover edition to add to my collection of treasures.
As I was sorting through storage boxes last weekend, I was surprised to find the pages of the remarks I made at my mother’s memorial service. She died 22 years ago today (November 5), and the service was held a week later. Mom had requested that each of her children prepare something to read at the service. Though we had been far from her heart and life for decades, our mother still expected her children to honor her at her death. Some of us did. Of her six children, my brother Norman, sister Sandra, and I attended her memorial service and shared our words.
A friend and fellow church member, artist Susan Savage depicts her Christian faith through paintings. Earlier this month, Susan presented this stunning oil-on-canvas painting, titled Delivered, to our church, where it now graces a wall in the prayer room.
Excerpts from her statement about the painting:
A shiny silver vessel sits triumphantly atop a nest of sharply pointed thorns. A red ribbon weaves its way through the torturous thicket and pours itself out behind a draped white cloth. The material substance of the silver vessel, delivered from its own refining fire of tribulation, stands as a testament to what Jesus Christ endured on the cross, and serves as a reminder of His loving and redemptive sacrifice for humankind.
This painting exemplifies the foundational core of the Christian faith. It is a reminder that Christ died in our place to rescue us from our sins. He died that we may live. Because of his sacrifice on the cross, His shed blood, and His resurrection from the grave, those who believe in Him are given victory over physical death.
"But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together in Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing: It is the gift of God ..." (Ephesians 2:4,5,8)