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FIRST-PERSON: The best and worst Christmas I’ve ever had


Editor’s note: The following is a partial transcript of comments made by SBC President Bart Barber when he was interviewed by radio host Erick Erickson. Used by permission.

FARMERSVILLE, Texas (BP) – Changes in life can be very destabilizing to Christmas tradition. But they can also help us to understand, maybe better than the people who aren’t going through difficult times, about the true meaning and significance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it applies to Christmas.

I can say for myself right now, at this moment in my life, I’m having both the worst Christmas and the best Christmas that I’ve ever had, all at the same time. In my family, our Christmas traditions are dying alongside my mother, who is in a very advanced stage of Alzheimer’s.

Since my dad passed away in 1997, Mom has been the nucleus that held our family together. I’m one of four siblings, and we’re all married and there are a bunch of grandkids, and for a long time, our Christmas tradition was centered around gathering around her in her home.

My mom’s an amazing cook, a tremendous hostess, and that’s gone now. She’s at a point now where not only can she not cook, she can barely eat. Not only can she not host everyone, she can’t even identify everyone, her kids who come to visit her.

As a result of that, this Christmas looks very different for me and for my family than past Christmases have looked. And, and in that way, with regard to what we traditionally have done at Christmas, it’s a terrible Christmas.

But several months ago, she was having trouble taking her medicine. And the people at her facility asked my brother to help her take her medicine, to talk her into it.

So he got out a pill that she needed to take, and he put that in her hand and told her to take it. And she started trying to take it, but she couldn’t find her mouth. Her brain just wasn’t working to do something as simple as that. And my brother began to cry, just watching her struggle with something so basic and so hard to see somebody you love, robbed of all of that.

And just like a switch flipped inside of her, she saw her son crying and stopped what she was doing, gained a clarity in her eyes, looked straight at him and said, “Don’t cry, Son. God will get us through this. It’ll be OK.”

And to see her lose every extra capacity that she ever gained, all the skills that she took pride in, to see her lose every affectation that she could ever come up with, and to see that her faith in the One who came to be born at Bethlehem – and His name means “God will save” – her faith in that One’s ability to deliver her outlasted everything else in her mind, in her heart, all the way through to the end. And that just gives me a renewed appreciation for what Jesus was really doing at Christmas.