I think about her often. She lived in a modest home built by her father. She walked with a limp, and drove a Cadillac. When I came over, we made fudge together. She taught me how to play poker. She was the first person I knew with a remote on her TV, and yet she never did get a dishwasher. She volunteered tirelessly. Her hospitality was comfortable and gracious, no pretense. Her door was always open. There was always room at her kitchen table. The coffee was always on.
She was my Grandma Elliott. She raised children during the Great Depression. She carried our family on her back when my grandfather was ill. She loved me. I always knew that, and she loved CHRISTMAS!
She loved Christmas, the tree, the decorations, her family gathered at her house. The cards, the food, the friends, she loved Christmas. She loved THE STORY. The promise of life stirring mysteriously in the womb of a virgin. The journey by donkey from Galilee to the sleepy village of Bethlehem. The stable, the shepherds, and the angels. A Christmas Star bearing witness to the light of the world. The lamb of God lying in a feed trough. The journey of the wisemen as they sought the face of God.
It was just a few days before Christmas when she died. I was with her. Struck down forty-one years ago by a strange disease that attacked her immune system. She had contracted the disease through a blood transfusion. The doctors did not even have a name for the disease then.
I remember that Christmas vividly. Presents under the tree from a grandma who was gone. Celebration continued, carols sung, the story shared. Grandma loved the story.
The light shines in the darkness.
The cries of a baby who came to dry the tears of a thousand generations.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Grandma loved the story. My friends, don’t lose the story. Don’t lose the story in the lights of the season. Don’t lose the story in the commercials which beg us to shop.
Love the season. Love the traditions. But don’t lose the story. Come to church and hear. Invite friends to visit the story with you.
For unto you a child is born.