This is the 3rd annual Christmas letter. I can’t believe that time has gone by so fast for me. I pray that it has gone quickly for you as well. As always you remain in my heart and prayers. This year has seen 2 more of my pen-pals parole. I recently had the opportunity to visit one of last years parolees. He is doing very well and is working in church ministry. It was a great afternoon spent catching up. Even after leaving prison I continue to pray for and correspond with men who need a friend or counselor. I will try to do anything within my power to help. Unfortunately receiving a parole and leaving prison doesn’t guarantee success while on parole. In response to a request I have written an article about surviving parole which will be coming in January when I have time to finalize it.
The other day I made 10 dozen Christmas cookies for a local rest home where my church held a Christmas carol and cookie evening. I used a store-bought sugar cookie batter that I rolled out and cut into various shapes with cookie cutters. The cookies looked good going into the oven but many of them looked misshaped when they came out. They lost their distinct shapes and did not closely resemble the molds they were made from.
Then I spent hours meticulously applying frosting. Candy canes, Angles, Gingerbread men, Snowflakes, and other forms emerged as I carefully drew in colored icing. In a process opposite of a young child I colored inside the lines with a boarder of cookie around the edges. Candy canes with red and white stripes, angles glowing radiantly, stars shinning, and many other now recognizable shapes emerged. Some of the cookies were plain sugar cookies, some were gingerbread and others were peppermint. The icing was flavored like cream cheese, peppermint or plain and paired specifically with the dough to compliment the flavor.
When I was done, they sat in straight rows on my kitchen table as the icing dried. Hours later they were packed in boxes awaiting delivery. The people at the rest home raved about the look of the cookies and helped themselves to lots of cookies. But it wasn’t the look that brought them back for seconds it was the taste. Those misshaped cookies were not too soft, not too hard, but just right to give a good chew. The flavors were strong enough, but not too strong to deliver a satisfying compliment to a cup of coffee or tea. These homemade cookies were chosen preferentially over the store-bought varieties. They were the hit of the party. One of the pastors even asked if I could make more for her to take to another church event next week.
Now I did not tell this story to brag about my cookie baking (which is legendary) or to tease you with food porn. Rather I want to draw a comparison to life and the true meaning of Christmas. Life does not always turn out the way we expect it to. While we were shaped uniquely sometimes under the heat of life’s events, we come out looking nothing like we did before. Unattractive and unadorned most people would not find us appealing at all. But the baker who formed us, shaped us, watched over us while we were in the oven and when the time was right brought us out, wasn’t finished with us yet. We serve a higher purpose. The baker took us in his hand and began to bring out our character much like a sculptor works stone. We become little masterpieces. Each one unique, yet all have an overarching theme- the birth of Christ, the savior come to earth who has changed us. We are no longer misshaped and unattractive but our lives now reflect the intent of the God who made us.
Jesus our Savior has come into our lives and our past has been overwritten by a new and glorious future. We become the center of attention for those around us who see in us something that is so different from the world. We aren’t Oreos, Vanilla Wafers or Fig Newtons we are something that can’t be bought in any store. We are made to serve others with our lives. We give ourselves selflessly to bless others. We don’t choose who we will bless but rather by making ourselves available God will lead us to those who need us. The fragrant aroma of our lives living out the will of God will attract those who hunger to know God.
Christmas cookies are only around for a short while each year, but we as Christians keep alive the spirit of the season all year long. We live our lives just the like the cookies, not for our own selves but for the good of others. No cookie wants to be left on the tray to be discarded when they get stale. We also fulfill our purpose when we give ourselves away as we reflect the story of the one who made us. Like the angles that appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:8-15, we point the way to Christ so that others will seek him for themselves.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that your life will reflect the message of salvation to those around you. “For unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
Your Brother in Christ