As we launch our Tates Creek Christian Church blog around Christmas, it seemed appropriate to share with you an article written by former member Melissa Nipper regarding her memories of Christmas. This was in the December issue of the Tates Creek Current. Enjoy it as you remember God’s love for you and celebrate with your family.
by Melissa Nipper
My husband would argue that enduring Christmas music in October is evidence of his unconditional love for me. I have more than 500 songs, including eight renditions of Silent Night, on my holiday playlist. Christmas music is simply too beautiful to relegate to a couple of weeks a year, so I set aside at least three months to infuse our home with its melodies.
There are very few Christmas songs I do not like, but there are some I consider bittersweet. I’ll Be Home for Christmas is one of those. When we moved to Kentucky and started attending Tates Creek in 1997, I was a newlywed, fresh out of college, and had only ever spent one Christmas away from my family in Florida. Though we were blessed to be near my husband’s family, I missed people, traditions, and places I’d held dear.
Back then, when I heard I’ll be Home for Christmas, my mind raced to another place, to Christmases past. Home was somewhere different — it was the place I grew up.
But slowly, something changed. A friend invited me to a circle. We joined a Sunday School class. We began serving in several areas of the church. Instead of sitting around feeling on the outside, we stepped inside and allowed ourselves to be enveloped by the hospitality and the love that are hallmarks of Tates Creek. We started “doing life” with the believers who were right there beside us. That meant learning their grandchildren’s names, entrusting our children to them, serving them, seeking their counsel, and mourning and celebrating life’s big and small moments together. Without even realizing when or how it happened, I started looking forward to decorating ornaments for the circle’s Angel Tree. The signatures on the cards we received in the Christmas card exchange box in the church lobby were more than just names from the Tates Creek directory, they were people who blessed our lives every day. I couldn’t wait for the Christmas Eve service to hear Tommy recite Jesus’ presence in all of the books of the Bible.
Now, I am “home for Christmas” whenever I am surrounded by people whose lives are built on the truth and amazing love of Jesus Christ. Wherever you spend the holidays this year, I pray that instead of pining away for Christmases past, you’ll reach out to the people you are with now. Never forget the unchanging presence and power of a Savior whose name unites us and whose sacrifice makes us a family—the family of God!
Brent and Melissa Nipper and their daughters, Katie, 12, and Sarah, 9, now reside in Johnson City, Tennessee, where they serve on staff at Milligan College.