My intention was to write a humorous Christmas article for the last one of the year. However, starting with my sister Joy, whom I wrote about in an article titled, “Pondering the worth of an unexpected life,” too many people dear to me have died. It seems right to take advantage of putting forth thoughts on what the true promise of Christmas is.
The impetus to a more sober article came as I sat staring at a blank page wondering what to write. Sometimes when nothing comes to me I open up Facebook or Instagram and procrastinate. If that doesn’t work, I go eat chocolate.
A post on my Facebook saved me. A friend had posted the link to a KSL article by Jordan Ormond about Emilie Parker. Emilie is the pretty little blonde girl who was killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting a year ago.
Ormond explains, “To mark the anniversary, Emilee’s mother worked with Shadow Mountain to create a video sharing how she and her family are working to honor her daughter’s memory through giving to others.” The video’s title is “Why Evil Did Not Win at Sandy Hook.”
Emilie’s mother Alissa speaks on the video of her year without her daughter and the healing that is starting to come. This healing began because of so much kindness shown to their family by others. It went from a man filling their oil tank and not charging to the thousands of letters of support.
Alissa says, “I truly started to feel this obvious strength and power that lifted me, that lifted my family during this time.”
To the question “But where was your God when this happened?” she confidently replies, “God let others kill his Son. He allows for us all to make our own choices, good and bad, because that’s the only way good can be in us if we choose it freely over all else. What I realized is how strong and how big God’s love really is.”
The second experience happened in a reply to an obituary I copied and emailed out to as many college friends as I had addresses for. The obituary concerned our friend Dennis Blackhurst, who died in Arizona in early December.
A reply thanking me came from a friend who with her husband is doing humanitarian work. They raised money for Christmas dinners for the thousands still in need in Tacloban, the Philippines.
The week she emailed they were flying south to get help procuring and packaging the goods. Their next step would be to take those goods by ferry to the heart of the disaster to be distributed.
What was obvious in this quick email was instead of serving their creature comforts this Christmastime, they had chosen to help others recover from a tragedy.
This message was from people who really enjoy a great party and who have a very large family of their own to serve. Instead of themselves this year, they were thinking about Christ, whose birthday we are about to celebrate and the example he set.
Christ enjoyed a good gathering. He attended weddings and had friends, but mostly he loved and served others, showing us by his example.
We each are God’s hands and eyes on earth. Through us he heals and helps his other children and we then ennoble ourselves as we serve.
There is such joy to be found in this season of the birth of Jesus. It is his ultimate sacrifice (his gift to us) that allows us to have eternal life. Eternal life means every person we love or who loves us can be a part of our life forever. We will see our family and friends who have died and again enjoy their companionship.
Knowing these truths is the best gift of the Christ child.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company