I said goodbye this week to some folks I’ve known for a long time. They probably started coming to PCC about a decade ago – an older couple then. They are elderly now. With family stretched out across the country, they decided to move to a retirement community in the mid-west. I went to their home this week to say goodbye.
They were in the back of the house, each sitting in an armchair with a pink tag on it – pink tags indicated items that were traveling with them. There weren’t many of them. Everything else would remain here and be sold. So I navigated the boxes and packing supplies and furniture that was organized for a move and I sat with them for a few minutes. They reminisced about their lives, about their time here in this community. They talked about the impact our church has had on them. The both shared some stories from their long life history.
At one point, he got very serious and said to me, “I want you to know that after careful consideration, even though it’s legal in Seattle, we’ve decided not to smoke marijuana!” We all laughed and enjoyed a light moment, but there was something heavy underneath. They were leaving. They are in their 90’s. It’s not hard to do the math.
We prayed together and cried. We all knew that we were saying goodbye. Probably for the last time.
But not really.
The Hope that Jesus offers us through Christmas is that a goodbye here is only temporary. At the core of Christmas is the hope that, because of the birth of Jesus*, we are offered life in eternity with him.
John, the disciple of Jesus and author of one of the four gospels, concluded his book with this single statement:
“these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31, NIV)
We always think of Christmas as a new beginning and new life represented in the Baby in a manger. And it’s true. Because of Jesus’ coming*, we get invited to a new life, which includes the hope for life after this one.
So take some time and think about the people you’d said goodbye to in your life. People you’ve lost to distance and time. People you’ve lost to death. Imagine the reunion that God offers us with others who also follow Jesus with their lives. That is a key part of the reaon for Christmas: Hope for life in eternity.
Pray today thanking God for this great hope – that death and distance are not the demise of relationships for us, but are only temporary for those who have placed their life in Jesus Christ!