It’s A Wonderful Life

Pastor Sal Massa

I smile as I bring to mind the mental snap shots of Christmas past. Midnight church service was a priority when I was a child. Jesus was born and attending church at midnight was the official start of a perfectly wonderful day. My earliest recollection is waking up on Christmas morning on Wilson Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. There they were! The very things I’d hoped for – Mr. Potato Head, Play Dough and a small handheld shooting gallery. There was no assembly required and no batteries needed in those days. Mom and Grandma were up for hours already preparing the feast for what seemed an unending supply of aunts, uncles and cousins. Everything was made from scratch. And if you forgot something, it was simply omitted because every store was closed.

It’s a wonderful life because:

the memory of the righteous is a blessing…. Proverbs 10:7a

I have a vast album of mental snap shots spanning the years we were raising our four children. The wonder of Christmas is never more magical than when you see it through the eyes of your own children. The Christmas season seemed to officially start in early November as the children had rehearsals every week for the great Christmas pageant. At home we would memorize Scripture and songs in preparation. One of my most cherished snap shots was made on Christmas Eve 1977. I had given birth to our third son just a few days before. Sal took our two little boys to church for the 7 PM service. Meanwhile, my dad picked up me and our baby from the hospital. Tim was dressed in newborn Santa pajamas. As Sal pulled into the driveway, I placed the baby under the tree and I hid behind a chair. The boys caught sight of the tiny red bundle and skidded across the floor, falling on their knees and pressing their cold noses on the baby’s warm face as they welcomed their new brother.

It’s a wonderful life because:

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

My Christmas 2018 produced far different mental snapshots then the ones of my childhood and family. We gathered with friends last December in the jungle of South India. It is really hard to describe the experience. The camp where we stay threw a huge birthday party for Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For three nights prior to Christmas, we attended Christmas Eve services at different churches. They did not display elaborately decorated trees or beautiful nativity scenes. They decorated with shiny streamers that zigzagged from one end to the other. It was, after all, a birthday party! Each service was followed by a traditional Indian meal which lasted until close to midnight. Then on Christmas Day, the camp invited the neighboring villages to celebrate the birth of our King. And they came. About 1,000 poor tribal Hindu people enjoyed an entire day of festivities that included the telling of the story of Jesus and the message of the gospel. Each person was served a traditional Indian feast. Each child was given a new outfit, each adult was given either a new blanket or sari. The glory of God showed up that day and all the memories of my Christmases past paled in comparison to the extravagant love poured out on these precious people.

It’s a wonderful life because:

… the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

Christmas 2018 is only days away. We’ll be celebrating quietly with my 93 year old mother. It will be a sharp contrast to Christmases past. At my age, I consider myself blessed to have an opportunity to make mental snap shots of spending Christmas with my mom. Five days later, we’ll leave for our 10th visit to India. It’s a joy to celebrate the birthday of the Wonderful One who has given me such a wonderful life.

Me and Mom

It’s a wonderful life because:

… a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6