MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! Today is Wednesday, December 16th. This is The World and Everything in It from WORLD Radio, supported by listeners. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Commentator Ryan Bomberger now on the joy of Christmas past and the hope of Christmas future.
RYAN BOMBERGER, COMMENTATOR: As a child, I always loved the build-up and the wonder of Christmas time. Growing up on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, there were traditions I eagerly looked forward to every year. In the countryside, nights were dark with the exception of a rare streetlight. So, Christmas lights illuminated the world around me in a twinkling splendor. I could never have enough of them. I was the one who would decorate the porch, the tree, or whatever I could wrap a string of lights around. Unlike today, we didn’t have Hobby Lobby or Kirklands or Amazon. Our decorations were virtually the same every year; each piece, each ornament having its own story. We were oh so careful with each one for fear of losing a part of our history. Mom was was sure to preserve things; you had to if you have a family of 15.
At our family store, customers enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere, employees mingled with neighbors, cashiers would fill the air with laughter (sometimes a little too loudly) and my dad would uplift people with seemingly every conversation.
As a kid I didn’t fully understand the servant leadership my dad modeled for his children, his employees and everyone who came into the store. I remember feeling embarrassed sometimes because my father owned the store, yet he would sweep around the front registers, make the coffee, bag groceries or clean up messes on the floor. People love Henry Jr. Yup. That’s his name. I’ve never heard one person speak an ill-word about him. He exuded what was inside of him—the love of Christ. It’s why Christmastime was even more precious to me. My dad embodied the things he encouraged us to believe. He was full of faith, full of joy, full of hope, and definitely full of compassion. How else do you explain a father who adopted and loved ten children that other men abandoned?
The world is a much better place because of the Light that he’s given to so many.
My dad’s still alive, but he’s slowly fading from a debilitating Parkinson’s disease as he sits alone in an assisted living facility, unable to care for himself. Because of COVID, no one in our family had been able to see him (in person) since early March. We can only see and talk to him via the Alexa device in his room. It’s heartbreaking. My incredible mom—who cared for Dad for many years before reluctantly relinquishing him to the residential home—has never been away from dad for more than four days at one time in her entire life. She’s gone nearly eight months without be able to visit him in his room. Five weeks ago, the home finally allowed her to spend 1 hour a day with him, in full COVID garb, in order to feed him because he’s lost so much weight.
It’s Christmastime again. I can’t sing carols with my dad, can’t decorate the tree outside of his window, and can’t hug him or tell him how much he is loved. What I wouldn’t give to have one more Christmas morning with my dad making his version of egg McMuffins, serving up lots of cinnamon rolls and delivering lots of joy.
He’s why I treasure being a husband and an adoptive dad. There’s not one day that goes by that I don’t tell my amazing wife and four children that I love them.
My comfort is that this season we celebrate Christ’s birth, and it’s all about rescue. Though God may choose not to heal my dad on this side of heaven (I never stop praying for a miracle), I know where he will be when his earthly body gives way to an eternal one. And what a spectacular show of lights he’ll be able to behold.
Merry Christmas dad. Your love still illuminates.
I’m Ryan Bomberger.