My Grandma loved Christmas. She had a way of making it extra magical. I remember sitting next to her sparkling, fiber-optic Christmas tree and just knowing that that one gift I was hoping for- the one I knew was a little too much to ask for, the one I hadn’t gotten yet, the one I was dreaming of- was definitely under that tree somewhere. We have a large family, but Grandma always had the perfect gift picked out for every man, woman, and child. It was awesome. But, when the last child was just starting to tear the paper off of the last gift, my Grandma would let out a big sigh and declare, “That’s it. Christmas is ALL over!” We think back on this and laugh, because of course, Christmas wasn’t all over just because the presents were all opened. However, when all the cookies are eaten, the paper is all over the floor, and the guests have gone home, I have to admit that it can feel a little empty.
But, that’s what is great about Christmas. It is the celebration of Christ coming. And He never left. He came to be with us. “She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us'” (Matt.1:23b). He’s with us. When the anticipation of Christmas is over, He’s with us. When we go back to our difficult job, He’s with us. When we feel lonely, He’s with us. When we are hurting, He’s with us. When we can’t feel His presence, He’s with us.
Speaking of being with us, last month my brother Nate was with us here in PNG! The school here puts on a “Spiritual Emphasis Weekend” every year for the students. Many missionary kids here in PNG don’t get the chance to have a church camp experience, a chance to experience God in a context that is away from their home and their parents, which can be very influential for teenagers. We heard though that they were struggling to find a speaker for this year’s event and were wondering if they would have to cancel it, but it just so happens that we know a pretty great youth pastor who was willing to come ;). God really worked through Nate while he was here, and we know that several students were encouraged in their faith through God’s Word that weekend. Nate shared with them that they are “deeply loved by God,” “completely forgiven,” “fully pleasing,” “powerfully equipped,” “totally accepted,” and “complete in Christ.”
Please pray with us that the students will remember who they are in Christ and let that change how they live. In fact, pray with us that wewill remember who we are in Christ and let it change how we live.
We wish you a merry post-Christmas. Remember that He is with you!
Till all know,
Matt, Karissa, Ty, and Wyck
– that Nate got to come and speak to the students
– some good friends here in PNG visited us over Christmas
– that He is with us
– for emotional healing
– for encouragement
– for wisdom
– for joy