Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a lovely day with friends and family, enjoying the season of giving and remembering that the Greatest Gift mankind ever received was from God – a baby boy born that long-ago silent night in a Bethlehem stable. May we never get so wrapped up in all the festivities that we forget the true meaning of it all <3
I have a lot to pack into this pre-scheduled post, so let's get on with it. :)
First off – thank you. Those two little words seem so inadequate, but I truly mean them. To all who took part in this linkup (this year and/or last) a huge thank you. Y'all have made this an awesome twelve days and...ahh! You're the best. You're all the best! <3
And now, the story of the birth of the true Purpose in all of this...the One we live for, and the One who gives our lives meaning...
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
-- Luke 2:1-20 KJV
Aren't those beautiful words?! :)
Here's a little something to think on that I heard sometime. We sing about "let every heart prepare Him room", but are we really? Let me put it this way. Are you with the inn crowd, or are you one of the stable few?
We have a winner for the MercyMe CD giveaway!! :D And the winner is...
Congrats, girl! I have emailed you and as soon as I receive your mailing address, I'll get your prize shipped off. ^_^
And now...maybe you're looking forward to this or maybe you're not, but here's the final part of Christmas Homecoming. Hope you enjoy! :)
James’s heart pounded loudly as he took in the shock in his sister's eyes and the tears on her face. An image of Mom and Dad, locked in tight embrace while a heartbreaking telegram fell to their feet, flitted through his mind.
He was hardly aware of Emma pulling Jamie from his lap and onto her own, as he reached for Molly's hand – only a foot or so from him.
Before his hand made contact with hers, a shadow fell across them and James looked up.
A skinny young man wearing the uniform of the United States Marine Corps stood next to the Christmas tree. No, no one was here to deliver a telegram that would destroy their hope. Instead, their missing loved one had returned home. Just in time for Christmas.
“Titus…?” Molly whispered, her lip quivering as tears skidded down her face.
“Hey sis. Merry Christmas.” Titus offered her a lopsided grin and that was all it took.
Molly stumbled forward a step and fell into his arms, her shoulders wracked with sobs.
As he looked on the long-awaited sight, James felt Emma's hand slip around his arm. He glanced towards her and she smiled back, tears glistening from her eyes and Jamie cuddling in her lap. He squeezed her hand and looked back to his siblings.
James’ vision was obscured by tears but even so, was quite certain Titus had only one arm around their sister. James’ hands suddenly felt clammy and sweaty. Something wasn't right.
Molly drew back from Titus embrace and wiped her eyes. Olivia and Henry slipped into the room, hugging their daughter, while Titus’ gaze found James. James then saw that his brother's right hand and arm were hanging limply at his side.
“You won, big brother.”
James chuckled, brushing the back of his hand across his eyes. Stupid tears. The “win” to which Titus was referring was an agreement the brothers had made when they joined up. A race – to see who would make it home from the war first. Amidst the horrific turmoil of the past two years, James had nearly forgotten the boyish competition. Titus, on the other hand, apparently had not.
“Yeah. And I'm pretty sure you cheated.” James grabbed his crutches from the opposite end of the couch and stood.
The look on Titus’ face was unreadable as his eyes dropped to his brother's empty pants leg, then bounced back to his face.
“What did you think you were doing going missing for nearly a year?” James accused, avoiding the topic of his injury until it was inevitable. “Letting us think you could be dead for all that time.” James maneuvered towards his brother.
Titus rubbed his chin with his good hand. “Oh yeah. That. Well, you see, that wasn't exactly planned.” He paused and squinted. “Think you can forgive me?”
“Forgive you?” James took another step forward and drug Titus into a brotherly, one-armed hug. “I think I might be able to manage that. Love you, brother.”
Titus didn't answer as the two embraced. His limp hand brushed James side, but didn't make it any farther.
Finally drawing back, James nodded towards the couch from which Emma looked on – Jamie asleep on her lap.
“Look what I came home to.”
Titus grinned and approached his sister-in-law and nephew. “Good to see you, Emma.”
“You too, Titus,” Emma reached up to squeeze his hand. “I would give you a hug, but this little fellow might object.”
“Ahh, I'll let you have a rain check.” Titus leaned down and caressed Jamie's cheek. “He's precious, Emma. Count your many blessings that he takes after you.”
James lifted one crutch off the floor and swatted his brother with it.
“Watch it,” Titus yelped, whirling around and nearly stepping on Molly who had resumed her seat by the fire.
“James!” Olivia admonished, she and Henry seated again in the rockers. “Don't you think you should treat your brother a little better than that when he's just arrived home?”
James grinned. “He's alright, Mom. I didn't hit him too hard.”
Titus removed his coat and sank to the floor beside Molly, and James reclaimed his seat next to his wife.
“Where were you all that time?” his sister asked, eyes wide. “When you were listed as missing in action, I mean.”
Instead of answering her, Titus stared into the fire. Finally, he spoke. “Why don't we save that story for tomorrow, or even the day after?”
“Okay,” Molly replied, smiling sweetly.
A moment of tender silence passed before Olivia dared broach another painful topic. “Titus…” she reached out to lay her hand on his shoulder. “Are you going to tell us what happened to your hand?”
Slowly, he nodded. “I reckon I need to.” He unbuttoned his right cuff and pulled up his sleeve, exposing a scarred hand and forearm. Burn scars, it appeared.
“Most of my arm looks like this. All the way up to my shoulder, and even a spot on my back. I was trapped in a burning tank. It's a miracle I made it out at all, much less with only these scars to show for it.”
James looked up from his brother's arm to his mother, and saw that Olivia was hiding her face behind her hands. Weeping for her child.
“Oh, Mama, don't cry.” Titus scooted across the floor to her feet and pulled her hands from her face. “I'm alright, really I am.” He gently wiped the tears from her face. “And I'm home now – home for good.”
She nodded, too overwhelmed to speak.
Titus smiled sadly and glanced down at his limp arm. “You know, it's not good for much, but at least I still have it.”
Olivia nodded and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. “You're right, son.”
“Of course I am.” Titus winked and clasped her hand. “And right now I'm just happy to be home...with all of you.”
Before they knew it, the clock was again chiming, only this time the pendulum drummed out twelve bold chimes before silence again claimed the air.
“Christmas Day…” Titus murmured, the simple words earning him another squeeze from Mom. He smiled and patted her hand.
“And what a wonderful one it is.”
The End…for now.
Other stops in the linkup...
Whew! That was quite a post!
I may be around later this evening/night to reply to comments and all that. But until then, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :D