December 18, 1620. Four hundred two years and one week ago. The Mayflower, carrying passengers who desired to build a new life with religious freedom, docked in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Imagine the anticipation of these passengers as they reached their new land. Anticipation to start a new colony, to build new lives, to worship in freedom
We anticipated, too. My brother Arnold and his girlfriend Jenny came for a visit, and spent several days with Don and me.
We enjoyed and valued the time learning to know and love Jenny.
She and Arnold arrived Wednesday evening from Kansas. We met Bob and Sheila for dinner at Aqui, one of our favorite Cal-Mex spots. Thursday we enjoyed a lovely day together in Napa, and Friday in Capitola and Carmel.
Jenny flew home Saturday morning to return to her sons. I didn’t feel good – head congested, throat sore…so tested for Covid (negative).
Our Froese family Christmas was Sunday. As I prepared for church I thought I might pass out. Arn suggested I retest. I did, and was positive.
That changed all our plans. Arn, Don and I missed our family Christmas. They missed the beautiful fruit salad I prepared, and the zwiebach (double rolls, a Mennonite tradition) Arn had baked. They were gracious, telling me they had enough food and just to rest – we’d get the gifts to them later.
When Arn realized his late wife’s family in LA also had been exposed to Covid, he immediately packed up to head directly home to Sterling.
We had anticipated some family face to face time today, Christmas Day, but that had to change. Don and I have quarantined this week (as have Jenny and Arn, who also tested positive) and are spending a quiet day at home together. Instead, we and Arn and Jenny read the Christmas story aloud together via zoom, then we enjoyed opening their white elephant gift and chatting.
Anticipation – the Israelites anticipated the coming of their Messiah, so long foretold by the prophets. And that anticipation was fulfilled with the coming of the Christ-child in a stable in Bethlehem, just as had been prophesied. I think of the God who became a tiny seed in the body of a faithful young virgin, Mary, impregnated by the Holy Spirit. What must she have felt? Anticipation? Fear about the stigma attached to an unwed pregnancy? Did she hold her head high, knowing this pregnancy was of God, or did she hide herself as much as possible?
We know she went to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was significantly older and six months further along in her pregnancy as she carried John the Baptist. And scripture says when the two women greeted each other, the babe in Elizabeth’s womb (John) leaped for joy. That unborn child recognized the coming of the Savior, even while in the womb!
We can never reach God on our own. He is holy, righteous, and cannot look on sin. It’s only because He reached down to us–that Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again, taking the penalty for mankind’s–for my–sin–that we are able to be in relationship with Him.
I have much for which to thank God.
- A loving husband, family, and friends
- Music, especially some of the marvelous Christmas music we’ve enjoyed recently
- Our church family
- Freedom to worship
- The reminder of those in great need because of war, poverty, famine, illness, loss, and loneliness, and that on occasion God allows us to step into and meet some of those needs.
- Dear friends who serve God in foreign countries, joyfully leaving behind many of the comforts of home to find home in a different culture and language.
And most important, I’m thankful for the greatest gift of all, the one we celebrate at this season. The One who created the world came to earth as the Christ-child, and will return one day to reign in peace and justice over all. HE is the reason for the season, the reason we give gifts to each other, the reason we sing and rejoice and praise God.
How’s your Christmas season going? Can you find things for which to thank God, even if they are not what might have been your preference?
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR HOME TO YOURS