The only dancing I remember doing this past December 14th was in Zumba class. Maybe that is why I missed the dancing in the street. Surely there was dancing in the streets that Wednesday after the President announced the end of the War On Terror, I mean Iraqi Freedom, no, no that is not right either. It was Operation New Dawn! You will have to forgive me; it has been a while since 1991 when Iraq and all its problems moved into my kitchen, as the center piece of conversation, and onto the lips of my children’s nightly prayers. Then the war was called Desert Shield-Desert Storm… remember?

The name of the war does not matter. What it has accomplished does. Sadam Hussein and his sons are dead along with Osama bin Laden, the people have voted and have an elected government, and our military men and women are coming home from Iraq. To my way of thinking, that alone is cause to raise our glasses in a national toast of victory if not to dance in the street! However, even at our own Christmas Eve dinner, our thanks to God for the end of this war that has taken the lives of and wounded so many, was not much more than a pitiful “PS” to our thanks for family and provision.

During discussions that followed our feast, my granddaughter said, “I think the reason no one is celebrating is because it was a war we never saw. I know I had to seek it out to keep up with it. I never really experienced it.” Mixed emotions flooded my heart as she spoke. There was thankfulness for the peace in which she has lived her young life along with concern that she may forget history and fall into the trap of one day taking for granted the freedom she now knows is not free especially when the carnage is at someone else’s doorstep.

We left our conversations unfinished and quickly dug through a pile of coats and scarves to attend Christmas Eve service in the small, mountain village of Bluemont, Virginia. The Christmas story was re-told in song and scripture and concluded with the lighting of hand-held candles, the singing of Silent Night and the admonition of the pastor for us to take the light of Christ with us into the darkness of a world that knows Him not.

What a powerful, living picture was our procession into the black of night! What a beautiful visual to take with me into the New Year as a reminder not to take for granted the gift of God’s grace. Grace, a gift freely given yet paid for through the suffering and death of my Lord and Savior. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

More importantly, the candles were a reminder to shine my light brightly enough for others to catch a glimmer of God’s love, one that is available to all who seek Him, and the opportunity for them to personally experience that love. I also pray for the comfort of God’s Holy Spirit to surround families and friends in the New Year who have had the landscape of their lives forever changed by a war whose ending has yet to be properly celebrated.

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