Friends, we have started putting up Christmas decorations all over our area. It helps many people to have hope. We have passed out many homemade cookies and other items you have sent. The Soldiers were very grateful, especially the ones who had to work when we had the big Thanksgiving meal. It is hard to explain how much it helps us.
It is interesting because we do not need a lot. We have a DFAC (Cafeteria) and our essentials are all met, but we do need the support. Imagine living in a large tent on a mountain and having a cafeteria for your food. Many Soldiers have food brought out to their area because they work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and cannot walk to the cafeteria.
We need the support you give to make life more bearable, and to give us a connection with our country. I know many Soldiers take for granted what you do for them, and do not see the sacrifices YOU make. If I could write everyone individually for all the love gifts I have received for the soldiers in my taskforce I would not have time to do anything but write!!!! Thanks again for the gifts you send, giving people hope in a season known for hope!
If you are religious you will like the second part of this note. If you are not, just feel the appreciation we have and do not bother to continue. I pray that God will bless you and bring you love in this Holiday season, though none of us can completely fathom the depths of what those three letters, G O D, mean.
I am amazed how many people do not get Christmas. Is Christmas about over-spending and getting in debt which often supports a country that is culturally rich but uses the money it makes to oppress its citizens (China)? Of course not. It is a season of HOPE because we remember that the Almighty found the human race valuable enough to allow Himself to be a weak baby. It is a season of Hope because of His life example, His love, His sacrifice of death and His authority over death through the resurrection. I wish all understood this and let all the hype make them remember what Jesus has done.
Many people who do not know Jesus in a relationship still understand the hope of Christmas. They have had times when they received gifts that represented the love others have for them, using Santa Claus as a cover to not get credit for their actions. Listening to the loud Christmas music and copying traditions they don’t understand is a choice to choose hope. That is why the decorations are so important, because they give something even to those who are not Christians. They represent hope and good memories from the past.
I wish everyone could move past the symbols and rituals, into a relationship with their creator. If glitter and lights of the season are not grounded in a relationship with Jesus, they are only as lasting and strong as the tinsel we put on the tree. January’s cold hits people harder in the face if Christmas is not in their hearts and is only connected to the wrapping paper that has already been carted away in the Garbage.
I usually get about 5-9 people at the services I do. I am not disappointed. The message I give is where the lasting Hope really is. It has really nothing to do with my talent. It is that the more we know who Jesus is the more we know how to be set free of the oppression in this broken world. Emotional scars from child abuse, or any brokenness past, present, or future becomes the strands of victory after we let Jesus heal us. There is so much Hope in Christmas, but most people only tap into the color, lights, and memories of Christmas past. When we are willing to understand the beginning of God’s willingness to live among us as a weak baby, we can start the road to becoming what we were originally supposed to be; a reflection of the Glory of the Almighty in His creation as we abide in a relationship with Him.
Chaplain (Captain) Steven E. Thomas
HHC TF Gunslinger
APO AE 09311