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Month: December 2023

The Christmas Letter

It’s Christmas time and we are bombarded with messages. Our favorite shows and movies are interrupted. News from family and friends on social media platforms is being replaced with advertisements. But one message I look forward to each year is the card from my cousin, Sheila.

She usually encloses a photo. One year she enclosed confetti . . . or was that card sent for a different occasion? Either way, what a mess!

If you are on her Christmas card list, you also get “the letter.” She always shares a scripture or two before she gets down to the business of summarizing the previous year. And over the last several years she’s had a one word theme that is meant to be a reminder for the coming year—for her and the family members and friends who are willing to receive it.

Her word this Christmas is “safety.” She chose Psalm 91:1-2 as her verses for the year:

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (NLT)

Sheila never has a perfect year. None of us do. There is always a death or two or three in her family, and because much of her family is also mine, we share in the grief. There is always serious illness in the family and surgeries to report. She needs a lot more paragraphs these days, even to mention only the major health events.

But why choose the word safety? Well, she did mention a college-aged grandson, living with three roommates and playing rugby. (To be clear, it’s the grandson who’s got the roommates and playing dangerous sports, not my elderly cousin. And she’s gonna pay me back for calling her elderly.) Still, why not choose a more traditional word? Has she used up all the Christmasy words? Peace. Good Will. Joy. Star. Light. Worship. Newborn. Expectation. She’s far too creative for a blah word like “safety.”

But I know Sheila, so I grabbed up my Bible and read the rest of Psalm 91. Aha!

Read it for yourself and tell me this isn’t a message that needs repeating this Christmas season.

“For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.

For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation. (NLT)

And that, my friends, is a Christmas message worth putting aside the shopping, baking, and the meal planning . . . everything. Don’t worry that your Christmas tree is lopsided or that half the lights are blown. Put down that wish list. It’s called a “wish” list because you can’t afford it!

In Psalm 91 is THE Christmas gift of ALL Christmas gifts.

But there is a catch. Not false advertising or misinformation, but a condition, a gift tag of sorts—that little label, either dangling from or stuck to the outside of the wrapping.  Something so small and easily overlooked, but it entitles the one whose name appears on it to claim and open the package.

The gift tag for all the safety and protection we need is located in the first verse. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Where are you living today? Jesus has a gift for you, and He would love to deliver. What is your spiritual address?