Do you ever wonder what to do with all the beautiful Christmas cards that come in the mail at this time of year? Sure, some of them have pictures of friends which you can then put on your fridge. But others are just cards with a little note tucked in. It seems a shame to quickly read them and then toss them in the garbage. Why not do something productive with them since people have taken the time and expense to send them to you?
image from itsbetterhandmade.com
Last year a friend posted a status on facebook that has had me anticipating the arrival of Christmas cards for 12 months! She and her family recently left their comfortable home in the States to live in Kenya as missionaries. They gave up much and left all of their friends and family to live in an unknown place amongst strangers. Perhaps because of a little homesickness, the Christmas cards that made it to them in Africa were extra special. My sweet friend wrote something like this (and I'm paraphrasing): We love receiving the cards from friends and family. It is a joy to open one each evening, read the card and look at the picture, and then spend time in prayer for the ones who sent it.
Her post was like a refreshing glass of water! The sometimes seemingly ridiculous nature of sending out cards once a year was suddenly given new purpose. We receive cards from so many friends and family members. Cards that remind us of lasting friendships, cards that celebrate new life and wonderful happenings, cards that tell of sadness and hardship. While I love to get and read Christmas cards, I've found that my family rarely joins in. The kids look at the pictures sent, but often see only a sea of strangers. My husband reads the ones that I force into his hands, but otherwise takes no part in this particular holiday tradition.
This year will be different though! As we sit and enjoy our dinner together, we'll choose a different card each night to read. We'll tell of how we know the sender. As a family we'll rejoice or mourn with those we love while we read their news. And then we'll do something productive. We'll pray for the one who sent the card. We'll join our voices and our hearts together and seek the Lord on their behalf. Why? Because Christmas isn't about cards and gifts and busy schedules. Christmas is about Jesus. And one of the ways we honor Him is by loving our neighbors - nomatter how far away.
We've already begun our new tradition. And while the kids aren't used to it yet, I hope we'll get enough cards to be going long into January. I've already peeked at tonight's card and it's one from friends who have recently returned to the mission field in a very difficult place. I look forward to a sweet time of prayer for this dear couple, and I look forward to the seeds it will plant in my own children's hearts as they hear of God's work in the lives of others around the world.