One of my favorite movies this time of year is the 1954 classic, "White Christmas." In the movie they yearn for snow in Vermont. Yesterday a Vermont quality snow storm struck us here in the heart of Oklahoma. Over 14" fell in the matter of a few hours. While this will seem rather unremarkable to our friends in northern climates, it triggered the governor of Oklahoma to declare a State of Emergency and to close the major highways and bi ways in our state. While we had planned to head out on a trip this morning, our family find ourselves housebound and sharing a quiet, but comfortable Christmas together. It seems sometimes in the hustle and bustle of Christmas we are tempted to so over schedule that we miss the important unplanned conversation and play that truly makes memories. I am celebrating that the snow has caused time to stand still and that we get to enjoy this unhurried day together.
One of the great gifts of Christmas this year was that my mother had our old home videos put on DVDs. Last night we watched two or three hours of our life when we first moved to Thailand and made our home there. It was great fun to see little Aaron and little Elizabeth again. We howled with laughter when we looked back on Beth and I wearing multicolored shirts that seemed appropriate at the time, but now look a bit silly. It was fun to look at the younger version of our family and to look back on the hopes and dreams we shared together. From this side of the story I can celebrate how many of those hopes and dreams have come to fruition in our lives. Beth and I wanted our life centered on ministry and to the Kingdom endeavors that would call people toward Jesus. We have served three different ministry roles in the last 15 years. Each was different, but each has given us the freedom to live out our call. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to serve as Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. I celebrate the fact that this congregation is as committed to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community and the world as their are to telling the Christ story. Beth and I also dreamed that our two children would grow into people of faith, of substance, and generosity. They have both found different paths to where they are in life, but I am filled with pride as I look at who they have become as people. While I remember them in their childhood with joy, I am truly thankful for this season when I get to walk beside them as they become adults.
While the time with family is precious, Christmas is ultimately about the coming of God among us that through this one named Jesus we could find forgiveness, redemption, life now, and life eternal. I am who I am because of what Jesus did for me that I might become a child of God. I join Simeon's joyful pronouncement found in Luke 2:30-32; "For my eyes have seen your Salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel." Today I celebrate God's great grace gift, Immanuel, God with us, Jesus the Christ.
Merry Christmas, Tom