Leigh Jones: A child’s faith at Christmas

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up, Leigh Jones on having a child’s faith at Christmas.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: Christmas for me always comes with a tinge of melancholy. Amid the holly and jolly, hustle and bustle, and true joy, cuts an undercurrent of sadness and loss.

Bing Crosby’s World War Two-era standard, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” captures that sentiment perfectly. Although written from the perspective of a soldier serving overseas, it speaks to the unfulfilled longing that always squeezes my heart this time of year.

MUSIC: I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…

That song resonated with me as a child. I lived in England with my mother and step-father, and Christmas meant flying home to America to see my dad. I focused then on the actual return described in the song because I knew that would be my experience—minus the snow.

Of course, the journey in the song is only a dream. Somehow I missed that as a child. Now it strikes me with full force when I think about the homes I can no longer return to and the people no longer here to celebrate with.

My dad has been gone now for almost 18 years. And our family has more recent losses to mourn. This will be the third Christmas without my father-in-law, and the first without my brother-in-law.

Before his funeral several weeks ago, I warned my 5-year-old that she might see Grandma crying a lot over the next few weeks. “Oh, why?” my daughter asked, genuinely perplexed as she pirouetted around the kitchen in some imaginary ballet performance. Her question exasperated me! I had just spent what I thought was a meaningful few minutes talking to her about the service and what she could expect during it. “Because Uncle Jason died,” I reminded her, thinking she’d entirely missed the point.

She stopped twirling to look at me.

“But he’s in heaven now. And that’s a good thing, right?”

She returned to her twirling while I just stood there, absorbing the realization that I was the one who had missed the point.

This Christmas will be difficult for everyone in our family except my daughter, whose child’s faith rests on the assurance that everything we’ve told her about Jesus is true.

A few years ago, a friend got me started on the habit of picking one song as my anthem for Advent. This year it’s “All Is Well.”

MUSIC: All is well, all is well. Angels and men rejoice.

That’s the declaration I’m making on faith because I know Jesus really does make all things “well.” Amid the loss and the sorrow. As we mourn those who have gone before. All is well.

MUSIC: All is well, all is well. Lift up your voice and sing. Born is now Emmanuel. Born is our Lord and Savior. Sing alleluia. Sing alleluia. All is well.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

(Photo/Denise Mattox, Flickr)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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