John 14:2-3 (NIV)
2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Mary Mc Donald wiped the tears from her eyes as the memories flooded into her mind. She leaned back into her armchair and sighed heavily. "No one should be alone for Christmas" she spoke aloud as if protesting to someone- anyone who would listen- but she knew there was no one to hear her. No one cared enough to want to spend their Christmas day with an eighty nine year old misery like her.
Closing her eyes Mary let her mind drift back to the days when her life had been happier. When she had been so busy with little time to sit and think. Now it was all she had to do and time had little meaning to her.
A smile flickered on her face as she remembered her Husband Mark and the beautiful Christmas gifts he used to bring her every Christmas morning. They always had made Christmas 'special' because they were married on 'Boxing Day' so celebrated their anniversary as well. "A Double helping of happiness," as Mark would say, giving her a kiss.
Mary's thoughts were interrupted by a loud knocking on her front door and she jumped, startled by the unexpected sound. She shivered as she struggled to her feet slowly and made her way to the door, wondering who could be calling on Christmas day.
When Mary opened the door she stepped back in surprised to see her Brother and sister-in-law standing there. "Surprise" they said smiling. "Martha, Paul but how." she exclaimed. Martha interrupted her by giving her a hug. "We are here Mary and that's all that matters isn't it. Now are you going to let us in or are we going to stand here all day?" Martha smiled as Mary kissed her and Paul put his arm around his sister. Overwhelmed with emotion Mary could only let her brother take her arm and walked into the house together.
They had not seen each other for years and there was so much news to 'catch up' on, but they had barely sat down when her Brother Peter walked in the back door. "Merry Christmas Sis' he said grinning from ear to ear. "Hi Paul, Martha, long time no see. He said nodding his head to them. Mary just burst into tears of joy." Ohh peter this is wonderful," she said as he kissed her on the forehead as he had always done since they were children.
"To think I was feeling so lonely just a few minutes ago, thinking I was going to have yet another Christmas all by myself." She had not felt so happy for a long time and soon they were all chatting away like excited young children.
The time passed quickly and too soon Peter said he must go. Mary knew her lovely Christmas day would soon be at its end and she would be alone again. "Do you have to leave Pete? You could stay the night if you like." Peter could see the sadness on Mary's face, but knew he had to leave. " I really do have to go Mary, but Paul and Martha will stay for a while. Won't you Paul? He said turning to his Brother as he spoke.
Paul and Martha nodded and Peter kissed his sister goodbye and left hurriedly. Telling Mary he would see her again very soon. It wasn't until a little later when Martha told Mary they saw Peter nearly every day that Mary thought it was strange, after all she had not seen Peter for at least two years herself and she knew he lived even further away from Paul and Martha.
Seeing the puzzled look on Mary's face Martha quickly told her she would understand soon. Mary was even more puzzled than before and started asking questions. She remembered that Peter, Paul and Martha had all died years ago! She gasped and fell back into her chair. What was she doing? Had she gone completely mad? Were they all in her imagination? She began to cry." Mary please don't cry," Martha's voice broke through Mary's sobs. " Look Mary someone has come to see you, now you will understand." Mary looked up and wiped the tears from her eyes with trembling hands.
"Mark, Ohh Mark is that really you"? She couldn't believe her eyes. Her Husband Mark was standing beside Paul smiling. His arms outstretched toward her. Mary she ran into his arms. Ohh yes, she knew the answer now. Mark had passed away more than ten years ago. She knew she would never spend another lonely Christmas.
Mary's body was found sitting in her armchair the next day- Boxing day- There was a contented smile on her face. The words on the card in her hand read,
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY DARLING! All my love Mark!
What a glorious day that will be when we get to be with those again that have gone ahead of us. This Christmas let’s take the time to remember those that God has put in our life.
Dear Lord, we thank You for the Christmas season. Because of it we can meet You and our loved ones in heaven someday. Help us share Your great gift with those around us so they may become Your children also. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.