It is Christmas, 2014 and the doctors tell me that cancer has invaded my body.
Cancer, although angry and aggressive, does not own me. It does not possess me.
The message of Christmas defines me and the song of Christmas possesses me. Not cancer. Never cancer.
Christmas is the dominating force within my human body … and oh! the indescribable joy of this blessed and holy season!
The message of the manger is what gives my life definition and purpose. The song of Christmas is a symphony that cannot be silenced and is more powerful than ever in this body that is expecting a Christmas miracle!
I have always been a self-diagnosed and proud Christmas-aholic. Nothing, in my 60 years of living, has ever moved me in such a life-altering manner as the message and the song of Christmas.
I remember as a little girl of only 4 or 5 years old, looking across the street at the US Post Office in our tiny village in Western New York and feeling a deep ache within my heart because the Christmas lights on the little brown building were so beautiful. My love affair with Christmas had begun …
I remember wiping away tears at my third grade Christmas choir concert as a group of 50 or so eight year olds sang the triumphant anthem,
“Hallelujah! Oh! How the angels sang!
Hallelujah! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light
‘Twas the birthday of a King!”
I remember hearing my father’s rich voice read the Christmas story from the Bible every Christmas morning of my childhood and teen-age years:
“And there were in the same region, shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night and an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.”
I remember delivering clothes, toys and groceries to a family who lived on the edge of our town in a rundown old house that was filled to the brim with children who all had runny noses. I remember, as we drove away from that unpainted, rickety unkempt home the feeling of sadness yet sincere joy that filled my tiny heart.
I remember, as a college sophomore, accompanying a powerful choir that proclaimed with deep conviction and with vocal excellence,
“Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room
For Thy Holy Nativity.
Oh! Come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee!”
I remember the joy and delight of celebrating Christmas with the rambunctious, enthusiastic and delightful 5 children that the Lord gave to Craig and me. Stockings were hung by the chimney with care … Christmas cookies were decorated and then quickly disappeared into little mouths. I remember the tender joy that always came on Christmas Eve when one by one the children would take turns reading a verse from the Christmas story.
“But the angel said to the shepherds, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Christmas has always given me purpose beyond pain … and has delivered glorious light in spite of deceptive darkness. The symphony that only Christmas triumphantly sings has delivered joy during days of depression.
Christmas is the most powerful historical event that has ever been notated on the human calendar. All of history turns on this one momentous event.
A baby was born and was laid in a manger.
And … it is because of Christmas that cancer has lost its power.
This year, my Christmas celebration has been different. I have listened for the song of the angels in operating rooms, in hospital corridors, in doctor’s offices and in lonely examining rooms.
And … I have heard it! The triumphant melody of Christmas has not been silenced by disease or by pain.
I have found the glory of the Christ child in the dominion where cancer has sickeningly and stubbornly tried to reign.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? This year, Christmas 2014, I have not had to try to stir up the Christmas spirit or even look for the Christmas spirit. The Christmas spirit in me has broken through the darkness and pain of cancer.
The Christmas spirit has bubbled up inside me in spite of cancer and because of that tiny baby Boy.
I find myself filled with great joy.
I find myself looking valiantly for opportunities to minister, to encourage and to bring that courageous spirit of Christmas to others who are battling cancer.
I refuse to waste one day of this miraculous, holy season. I will not be ensconced in the dark dread of disappointment or discouragement.
I refuse to be distracted from the celebration that only Christmas deserves.
I refuse to wrap myself in somber tones or in a minor key. I will sing and I will celebrate because Christmas is all that really matters in this disease-ridden, war-torn world in which we live.
How I wish that cancer had not invaded my body at Christmastime.
However, let me declare for the entire universe to hear … I will celebrate! I will sing! Cancer has no power in me or in you because Christmas has come to our world.
God, the Father, sent His only Son, Jesus, from the splendor of heaven to the sickness and sin of earth. And when Jesus came, He brought a powerful gift to be unwrapped by all mankind. Jesus had the gift of healing tucked under His little arm and He brought it for people like me.
“The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” – Malachi 4:2
Jesus came so that I could be healed … and He died so that I would be healed.
“… for by His wounds you were healed.” – I Peter 2:4b
I don’t know what you are going through this Christmas but I dare you to sing! I dare you to bring joy to the world in which you live! I dare you to encourage someone and to join in the celebration of this miraculous time of year.
This Christmas … 2014 … will be the best Christmas of my life because this year I have discovered His joy in the most unlikely of places.
Christmas is stronger than cancer and is more courageous than pain. The joy delivered to this broken world by a baby Boy is why I can look ahead with hope.
This year, Christmas 2014, I sing with the angels and with the shepherds,
“Joy to the world! The Lord has come!”