Do you remember the most wonderful gift you ever received on Christmas morning? Can you remember that feeling of pure joy and excitement? Were you hardly able to believe it was really happening to you? Some of you may have even received the gift of a summer at Camp DeSoto! Every year we get a few messages from Santa about what kind of trunk to leave under the tree and what stocking stuffers might be good for a Camp DeSoto girl. And even better are the photos, videos, and notes we get on Christmas day sharing a DeSoto girl’s “I get to go to Camp DeSoto!” delight. (Those really are the best.)
As we near Christmas, I keep thinking about the gift that Mary received when Jesus was born. I think about the awe, curiosity, joy, and maybe even uncertainty that she and Joseph must have felt once they held a healthy, swaddled baby boy in their arms and looked into his brand new face. I think about the shepherds as the sky filled with angels and they received a heavenly announcement about a baby in a Bethlehem stable. So this baby is a king? What does this all mean? They knew to celebrate, and they were told not to be afraid, yet there was no way they could fully know what that new life meant or what was in store for the whole world.
Can you imagine all the things you would tell your younger self if you could go back in time to the first time you found out about Camp? I can just hear you trying to explain everything all at once - the excitement, the inability to accurately capture it with words, the “you don’t even know how much you’re going to love it!!!” Now, can you imagine if the disciples - the men and women who followed, trusted, and loved Jesus and had lost him and ached to have him back - what if those people could have time-traveled back to the night of his birth? What would they have told Mary and Joseph about who this baby boy would be? What might they have whispered in the shepherd’s ears about how momentous this night really was? Can you imagine how sincerely and joyfully they would have worshipped that night, gazing on the face of Jesus?
That is how we are going to worship this Christmas - like disciples who have time-traveled back to that first Christmas Eve. We are going to soak in the pure joy of this gift, not taking one truth for granted. This Christmas Eve, we will light our campfire candles (girls, do you still have the one we sent to you in May?) and think of you. We will cup our hands around the flame, protecting and appreciating the light, remembering that we are the light of Christ. And this year more than ever, we’ll be holding dear the truth that the candlelight we hold connects us to each of you and to all who carry the Christ light in their hearts.
We miss you more than we can say, and we can’t wait to be together again. We invite you to join us in celebrating the promise and hope of Jesus’s birth this Christmas, as we are all in need of this magnificent gift.
Sarah, Phil, and Marsha