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  • Writer's pictureKaren Shayne

The Gift of the Holidays

My Tennessee holiday season was again inspired by the Christmas Eve choir songs and a gifted preacher's prose. In the dark wooden pew at Brentwood United Methodist Church, I listened as those incredible sounds filled the air with calm assurance that a Savior was born to fill our lives with unimaginable peace and joy.

As the aroma of burnt candlewicks wafted through the air from the previous service, and as fresh candles were placed for the emotional finale of “Silent Night” by candlelight, my mind journeyed through the past year. As Dr. Chappell began to read the familiar words of Luke, I recalled my childhood Christmases, when those same verses were read by so many kind, Christian souls. From manger scenes to Santa Claus and to Christmas carols, I journeyed back through holidays past, filled with a warm thanks for those who crossed my path, calming my fears and bringing me joy.

The annual Christmas message from Dr. Chappell is always a blessing to the hopeful heart. This incredibly kind and well-spoken man can weave beautiful stories with powerful scripture, adding humor and provoking emotions throughout twenty captivating minutes. His voice itself is captivating: I can close my eyes and imagine him not at the pulpit, but sitting in a high back leather chair by the fire, surrounded by sweet souls clinging to each phrase.

The message this night was once again “telling” as Dr. Chappell weaved the Christmas story from a much different perspective : the emotional ride of the wise men. He described how their fear of this new king turned to joy in the starlit view of a baby in a manger.

I began thinking how the wise men’s journey is much like our own.

We are often faced with fear throughout our walk through life. Much like the wise men, we ponder how we can reason with our emotions and move forward, past the fear. Then, almost on cue, before us is the illumination of the light. Just like the angel that appeared on the road to Bethlehem, that special someone appears to calm our fears. When each step before us is full of paralyzing fear, that special soul proclaims, "fear not." They shine their light and extend a hand to guide us to peace, joy and ultimate fulfillment.

As I recalled Dr. Chappell’s Christmas Eve sermon, I realized how often we are sent an angel to guide our journey with hope and peace and joy. Leaving the sanctuary's sounds to return to Nashville's commercial Christmas chaos, I decided to carry a wise man and the angel with me in my heart.

And as I enter this new year, I hope to turn others' personal fear into joy. May I be the light that shines to lead them to peace and abundant joy.

As we welcome the new year, may we all take time to deepen our commitment to peace and love and joy. May we be kind to others and be their light during their times of fear. May we love life with deeper passion. May we commit to healing those who are hurting. May we choose compassion over chaos. May we hold our loved ones close and give to them unconditionally.  May we provide abundant joy to those around us.

May our 2017 be prosperous and filled with renewed belief in the goodness of mankind. May we work together in helping others to conquer their fears and realize their abundant joys.

And when returning to our familiar locales next Christmas Eve, may we all fondly reflect upon a year's worth of comfort and joy given to our fellow men and women. The gift of abundant joy; may we all share in its legacy. 

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