On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true friend gave to me...
A Letter Worth Saving
A CHRISTMAS THOUGHT FOR THE DAY…"A Gift Every Day"
"One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is their love for each other." –Kay Dietrich
I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY—A Son’s Letter from War
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” --John 15:13
It's Christmas Eve 1945, and the tiny church is filled to capacity. Can¬dles cast a soft glow in the dimly lit sanctuary. An elderly man steps to the pulpit and clears his throat slightly, gathering the attention of all in the room. "Our pastor asked me to read you this letter, written by his son last Christmas Eve." The room grew absolutely still. Quietly, the deacon started reading:
24 December, 1944
Your letter dated 22 November arrived a while ago. I'm saving it to open on Christmas. You cannot imagine what a gift it is to get mail here. Some guys who get no mail ask us to read ours out loud, just so they can hear from home, even if it isn't their home. There are only six of us left now from the old gang. The rest are wounded, missing, or buried here on the other side of the world. The new guys seem so young, though most of them are only a year or two under us in age. They'll be old too, soon enough. It's so cold we can't stop shaking; our water freezes almost before we can drink it! Rockport seems so far away to me now. What I wouldn't give to be baking on its summer beaches again!"
A stir near the rear of the auditorium caught the deacon's eye, causing him to pause and look up. Near the back of the room, an old man leaned on his cane as he struggled to his feet. Expecting him to leave the pew, a young couple stepped aside to let him out, but he merely nodded and stood in place. Another man one row back also stood. Then another, and another, until eventually every man in the congregation was on his feet. The reader at the pulpit turned to the pastor, who looked across the crowd, deeply moved by this show of respect for his son. The elder resumed his reading:
"All those years you gave sermons on Christmas, I never really understood how a person could love somebody enough to give his life for them. But these guys, Dad! I know it must sound silly, but you don't live and fight with someone without growing to love them. I know there are bigger reasons why we fight wars, but for us here on the ground, it's about protecting each other, simple as that. For the first time in my life, I understand there's something worth dying for, and that's the guy in my foxhole. I've seen men scared beyond belief do amazing things when their buddies are in trouble.
No disrespect, Dad, but I'm not sure anyone can understand the story of Christmas better than the soldier. If he can give up a chance to see life through just because his friends are in trouble, then certainly God can love us that much. Surely that explains how Jesus could give up His place in heaven to come to earth."
As the reader paused to draw a breath, only the sniffs and sounds of muffled crying broke the silence. He continued:
"Not all of us are Christians here, Dad, and I'm sorry for that. Death comes so quickly to some that I just know they didn't have time to prepare to meet their Maker. I know it worries you that I'm here.
When I signed up, I was so sure nothing could happen to me! Now what I want most is to be warm again; to be someplace quiet and safe. I want to get married, drive a new car, and all those things it feels like I'll never do now. I don't want to leave this world, nobody here does, but every day it looks more and more like most of us will. I want you to know, Dad, never before has Christmas meant so much to me. The story of the baby Jesus gives me hope in a place where there's very little reason to have hope.
I know if I don't make it, I'll be buried over here, and it makes me sad to think you won't even be able to visit my grave. But what joy we share knowing there will be a day when we all can see each other again in a place where we never will be sad or hurt or sorry again. So that's my Christmas present to you, Dad. Know that this Christmas, I understand better than ever before all those things you tried so hard to teach me. Give my love to Mom. I'll write again when I'm able.
Not a dry eye could be found in the sanctuary that evening, one full year after the letter was written. The men in the sanctuary continued to stand out of respect for the pastor's son, and the ladies bowed their heads, showing their respect as they prayed quietly for the pastor and his family. The pastor continued to sit through this quiet salute, absorbing the love of his people for him and his son.
After a few moments, a young man seated to his left stood and stepped to the podium to lead the congregation in carols. As he did, the congregation erupted in applause. Perhaps only on the first Christmas night did the presence of a father's son bring more joy. Tommy was home….
--Compliments of Randy Kilgore
YOUR MIRTHFUL MOMENT OF THE DAY...
A pastor asked his Bible class, "Why was Jesus born in Bethlehem?" A student replied, "Because his mother was there."
Makes sense to me!
YOUR YOUTUBE CHRISTMAS MOMENT
Vanessa Williams sings “Gracious Good Shepherd” expressing our advent yearning for our savior.
You can find the archived messages from this year’s series on my website at http://terrypaulson.com/christmas.shtml/. More tomorrow...as we prepare for His coming!
Your Host for this Year's Journey....