Connie and I enjoy hearing from friends and family who send Christmas letters. Yes, we really do read them. We are cheered by the holiday greetings and good wishes. We enjoy the photos that are sometimes included. This is the only time of year when we hear from some of our far-away friends and we appreciate their writing to us. The Christmas season is a good time of year to hear from loved ones.
I suppose this seems old-fashioned, but I guess I am entitled to be, since I am, in fact, old. I still like to go to the mailbox and find some real mail. Christmas cards are a delight — festive, colorful and uplifting. For several years Connie and I have made it a practice to put those Christmas cards and letters into a basket in our bedroom. We keep them all year. When we pray together before retiring, we often use those cards as reminders to pray for the friends who sent them.
Christmas letters usually include updates about important events in our friends’ lives: news about children and grandchildren, travel adventures, career changes, books read (or written), and hobbies and other interests. Most of the time, our friends adhere to the conventional rules of etiquette for Christmas letters: keep it short, try not to brag, be positive, make it personal, and remember to include the whole family.
What makes this meaningful? Why do we send and read these family letters? What is going on? I think Christmas letters are saying at least two things to those who receive them. “I want you to know me” and “I love my kids.”
One of the most important things we give to each other as human creatures is recognition. Every person desires and deserves to be understood and respected. This is why we smile. This is why we talk and listen to each other. A Christmas letter says, “Here is some of what I want you to know about myself and my family. This is a bit of information about what makes my life significant.”
Of course parents will write about their kids, too. Perhaps the most important responsibility we have is launching children in life, giving them a great home foundation. Watching them learn and grow and achieve is a source of immense satisfaction and legitimate pride for parents. It is not surprising that Christmas letters tell about the kids’ academic, athletic, and community activities. Of course parents want to talk about their kids.
The beginning of the new year is a good time for me to remind you that our heavenly Father has communicated to us in written form. The Bible is like a love letter from God. Even though it is thousands of years old, it is relevant to every generation is every part of the world. It is like those Christmas letters in these respects: God is saying, “I want you to know me,” and “I love my children.”
Jesus summed it up in his great prayer for his followers in John 17. Verse 3 says “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” God wants us to know him and we may know him through Jesus his Son. Then in verse 23 Jesus prays, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them, even as you have loved me.”
The Bible is filled with messages like this from our heavenly Father. He wants you to know him and he wants you to know that he loves you. Read his love letter in 2021. He may ask you if you’ve read it when you see him someday.
Pastor Randy Faulkner