A serious Christmas

We’ve been shaken by the death of our former colleague Kristine Luken. I’ve known lots of people who have died–by disease, by accidents–but I can’t think of anyone I’ve known who has been murdered. And as a missionary at the hands of terrorists of whatever variety. Also strange has been the “international incident” dimension, so that I’m reading about this in newspapers from all over the world.

Now we’ve learned that the father-in-law of my brother Jimmy (who has been making appearances on this blog) is dying of cancer. He’s in the hospital in critical condition and probably won’t make it to Christmas. I didn’t really know him, but I’m sad for my sister-in-law and the whole family. (Please pray for them in this hour of extremity and need.)

And yet, all this bad news by no means is taking away the joy of Christmas. It is just making my feelings more complex. The combination of soberness and joy is fitting, maybe making my Christmas more meaningful than usual. The tinsel sentimentality and nostalgia are stripped away, and I am reminded more powerfully why the Christ child came, to deliver us from precisely these maladies that are troubling me; namely, sin and death.

So I wish you a merry Christmas. Also, a serious Christmas, such as the one that I am having, only without the tragedies.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • collie

    We look forward to heaven, yet we want to cling to this life, I guess because we know so little of what that life to come will be like, but also, we don’t want to leave our family and friends. It certainly does require us to exercise our faith in Christ. Dr. Veith, I hope your celebrations are still joyful, midst all the painful ponderings.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • collie

    We look forward to heaven, yet we want to cling to this life, I guess because we know so little of what that life to come will be like, but also, we don’t want to leave our family and friends. It certainly does require us to exercise our faith in Christ. Dr. Veith, I hope your celebrations are still joyful, midst all the painful ponderings.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • Tom Hering

    May all the comforts that the Christ Child brought into this fallen world abound to you and your family, Dr. Veith.

    Thank you for the reminder that this Christmas will not be a merry time for many. Some will suffer the loss of loved ones – family, friends, and pets. Some will lose jobs and homes. Some will receive a frightening diagnosis. Some will be all alone. While for others, the holiday will bring already-strained family relations to the breaking point. And for others still, each Christmas recalls painful memories.

    We celebrate an event of ultimate empathy – the Incarnation. Let’s pray for opportunities, this Christmas, to be with others in their need. As God came to be with us in our need. Amen.

  • Tom Hering

    May all the comforts that the Christ Child brought into this fallen world abound to you and your family, Dr. Veith.

    Thank you for the reminder that this Christmas will not be a merry time for many. Some will suffer the loss of loved ones – family, friends, and pets. Some will lose jobs and homes. Some will receive a frightening diagnosis. Some will be all alone. While for others, the holiday will bring already-strained family relations to the breaking point. And for others still, each Christmas recalls painful memories.

    We celebrate an event of ultimate empathy – the Incarnation. Let’s pray for opportunities, this Christmas, to be with others in their need. As God came to be with us in our need. Amen.

  • collie

    Thank you, Dr. Veith for hosting this blog and providing so many interesting topics for discussion throughout the year.

    I wish all Cranach blog readers a very merry and blessed Christmas.

  • collie

    Thank you, Dr. Veith for hosting this blog and providing so many interesting topics for discussion throughout the year.

    I wish all Cranach blog readers a very merry and blessed Christmas.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Christmas has become much more serious than it once was for us. One year we lost one of our children to complications from surgery in early December. That Christmas was difficult, yet strangely good too. A couple of years later my wife was seriously injured when she was struck that November by and SUV while she was walking. We had Christmas with a hospital bed in our living room. Those events, and others, focussed our attention much more away from the shopping and the glitz and towards the radical message of the gospel. Christmas became more serious for us, but also better.

  • http://satellitesaint.blogspot.com/ Tucker

    Christmas has become much more serious than it once was for us. One year we lost one of our children to complications from surgery in early December. That Christmas was difficult, yet strangely good too. A couple of years later my wife was seriously injured when she was struck that November by and SUV while she was walking. We had Christmas with a hospital bed in our living room. Those events, and others, focussed our attention much more away from the shopping and the glitz and towards the radical message of the gospel. Christmas became more serious for us, but also better.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The Lord bless you this Christmas, dear Doctor. And may all His own (and many more we pray this day) rest in the Joy that arises and is born for you and for all only in Jesus.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    The Lord bless you this Christmas, dear Doctor. And may all His own (and many more we pray this day) rest in the Joy that arises and is born for you and for all only in Jesus.

  • Trey

    Your friends and family will be in my prayers. Thank you Dr. Veith for this blog and your writings. They have truly blessed me and encouraged my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

  • Trey

    Your friends and family will be in my prayers. Thank you Dr. Veith for this blog and your writings. They have truly blessed me and encouraged my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

  • Don

    And so it was in the original Christmas story. Many were troubled from visits of Angels, the Virgin Conception, the slaughter of innocents and ominous warnings (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also).

    Yet we are told “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ”

    Blessed Christmas.

  • Don

    And so it was in the original Christmas story. Many were troubled from visits of Angels, the Virgin Conception, the slaughter of innocents and ominous warnings (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also).

    Yet we are told “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ”

    Blessed Christmas.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith, I’m so sorry to hear of Jimmy’s father in law. We will pray for he and his family.

    It’s very painful when we face illness and death at any time, but even more so at Christmas. My mother had two strokes nine years ago on the 18th of December, I know how much it hurts,….. we drove up to Washington to be with her, she lived until May of the next year. My mother is with the LORD, that is my comfort and joy, and so is my father.

    I pray for Kristene’s family and loved ones, it must be difficult to lose such a dedicated woman, who’s joy was to tell others about the Savior.

    You might remember Dr. Paul Carlson, a medical doctor, who was murdered in Africa some years ago, he and his family were friends of my parents. That too was a terrible tragedy, however the LORD was glorified in spite of what happened.

    May the LORD comfort each one of you today and through the Christmas time we are just now celebrating the birth of our LORD Jesus Christ. We will one day be with those we loved, but most of all with our LORD and Savior who gave His life for us on the Cross, that all who believed might have everlasting life.

    God bless and comfort everyone,

    Love in Christ, Grace

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith, I’m so sorry to hear of Jimmy’s father in law. We will pray for he and his family.

    It’s very painful when we face illness and death at any time, but even more so at Christmas. My mother had two strokes nine years ago on the 18th of December, I know how much it hurts,….. we drove up to Washington to be with her, she lived until May of the next year. My mother is with the LORD, that is my comfort and joy, and so is my father.

    I pray for Kristene’s family and loved ones, it must be difficult to lose such a dedicated woman, who’s joy was to tell others about the Savior.

    You might remember Dr. Paul Carlson, a medical doctor, who was murdered in Africa some years ago, he and his family were friends of my parents. That too was a terrible tragedy, however the LORD was glorified in spite of what happened.

    May the LORD comfort each one of you today and through the Christmas time we are just now celebrating the birth of our LORD Jesus Christ. We will one day be with those we loved, but most of all with our LORD and Savior who gave His life for us on the Cross, that all who believed might have everlasting life.

    God bless and comfort everyone,

    Love in Christ, Grace

  • Steve

    Dr. Veith,
    May the peace that passes all understanding be with you and your family at this time. The prayers of the Foxx family are that the truths of God’s Holy Word and the sacrifice and forgiveness of Christ bear your burdens and if God should so choose carry Jimmy’s father in law home. Really, what better Christmas present could any forgiven sinner realize?

    Steve, Bonnie, and girls

  • Steve

    Dr. Veith,
    May the peace that passes all understanding be with you and your family at this time. The prayers of the Foxx family are that the truths of God’s Holy Word and the sacrifice and forgiveness of Christ bear your burdens and if God should so choose carry Jimmy’s father in law home. Really, what better Christmas present could any forgiven sinner realize?

    Steve, Bonnie, and girls

  • helen

    God give us all the certainty that Christmas is not about gifts, but about the Gift of a Saviour.
    A blessed Christmas to all!
    –helen

  • helen

    God give us all the certainty that Christmas is not about gifts, but about the Gift of a Saviour.
    A blessed Christmas to all!
    –helen

  • Adrian

    Dr. Vieth,
    Christmas is joyous and serious. God gives a son to die to redeem the world. Soon and soon, Stephen, John, and Innocent babes will be remembered as Martyrs. A real Christmas for real sinners wounded and broken. The world and are flesh set us up for ease, nostalgia, and fulfillment of fleshly desires. Instead we learn faith in God made flesh. Peace and goodwill.

    Adrian Piazza

  • Adrian

    Dr. Vieth,
    Christmas is joyous and serious. God gives a son to die to redeem the world. Soon and soon, Stephen, John, and Innocent babes will be remembered as Martyrs. A real Christmas for real sinners wounded and broken. The world and are flesh set us up for ease, nostalgia, and fulfillment of fleshly desires. Instead we learn faith in God made flesh. Peace and goodwill.

    Adrian Piazza

  • saddler

    Sincere condolences Dr. Veith. I can understand your feelings. I lost a dear friend who was murdered by his stepson a number of years ago. He was 41. It shakes you up to say the least. God’s blessings during this joyous season.

  • saddler

    Sincere condolences Dr. Veith. I can understand your feelings. I lost a dear friend who was murdered by his stepson a number of years ago. He was 41. It shakes you up to say the least. God’s blessings during this joyous season.

  • Stephen

    Dr. Veith,

    This is the first Christmas with my dad in heaven with Christ. I was reminded last night as we lit the candles and sang those beloved carols of how the fullness of the glory of God was pleased to dwell in a helpless babe. I was reminded as well that whenever I need an answer to the “why” of life that question finds its answer in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no reason for darkness, evil, sin, and death – no meaning to be found there whatsoever. But when the light comes into darkness, there is only that meaning, the meaning that is mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, love and hope. It does pass all understanding. May you have it this Christmas.

  • Stephen

    Dr. Veith,

    This is the first Christmas with my dad in heaven with Christ. I was reminded last night as we lit the candles and sang those beloved carols of how the fullness of the glory of God was pleased to dwell in a helpless babe. I was reminded as well that whenever I need an answer to the “why” of life that question finds its answer in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no reason for darkness, evil, sin, and death – no meaning to be found there whatsoever. But when the light comes into darkness, there is only that meaning, the meaning that is mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, love and hope. It does pass all understanding. May you have it this Christmas.


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