“How was your Christmas?” How many times have I heard that, and said that, during the last few days. Plenty of the reminders that make this season of the year special were in evidence for us, such as decorations and entertaining both American and international friends and families. Since this was the first Christmas in about 14 years that we’ve not been able to see all our kids and grandkids, however, if I were honest, I might simply say, “Different.”

Our son Tim moved his family from Tennessee to California in August so his wife could assume a new ministry opportunity. It’s not as if they fell into a black hole. On Christmas Eve we FaceTimed together, and early next month we’re flying out there for “Late Christmas.”

Of course, I know that the main point of Christmas isn’t whether family shows up.

That’s kind of like the icing on the cake. The main point is whether Jesus shows up.

And what do you know? Jesus showed up for us. Just like He promised. “And, behold, I am with you always,” some of His last words before He ascended to heaven. Advent is all about “coming,” and Jesus comes everyday if we’re aware of it, He comes in special ways during Advent, He comes when we worship, He comes in every aspect of personal relationship to Him who came the first time to live, teach, die for us, and be raised. And of course, we’re reminded that He’s coming again in bodily form, not on our calendars but on His.

So Christmas doesn’t depend on whether the family is here, but whether the Lord is here.

When we think of family not being around, we feel empathy for all the families of our many international friends and missionary friends who are separated from their families. We remember folks whose loved ones passed on recently or even a while ago, who are missed. But who we’re counting on is Jesus.

I don’t look down, I look up!

Charles Parker, Nashville TN

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