A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Christmas 2023 isn’t really over. True, it sure seems like it should be over, with bills to pay, the Christmas tree to dismantle, goodbyes to loved ones said, and clutter to clean up. It looks like Christmas is over, and you may be glad. Christmas for some of you may have been sad, or lonely, or disappointing. And I understand.

My Christmas this year was quiet. I’ve always eagerly anticipated the holidays because the children, grandchildren, and greatgrands could all come home for Christmas dinner. That’s no longer possible. God has wonderfully multiplied our family. (I welcomed our twenty-first great-grandchild last week.) And yes, I suddenly got old. So Christmas was quiet. Quiet, but just as precious as ever. The joy and peace of Christmas will last me all year long, because the manger is eternally fused with the cross.
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, made this marvelous prophecy about Jesus’ birth:

As God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
That we should be saved from our enemies . . . .
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant . . . .
To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Because the manger is eternally connected to the cross, I can serve the Lord Jesus this year without fear and without feeling guilty. Zechariah’s prophecy continues:

You [Zechariah’s son John the Baptist] will go before the face of the Lord Jesus
To prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:72-79

The birth of the dear Lord Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to offer all of us poor sinners forgiveness of sins and peace with Him. Because of Christmas, we have the precious promise that He will give us His presence, His peace, His light, throughout the year, even in this dark world of sin. Oh, yes! Have a merry Christmas all year long!