Today, we lost a saint. Gena's best friend from childhood became one of my dearest friends. I owed Elizabeth a lot - after all, if she had not accepted me, I doubt seriously Gena would have said "yes." If she had not continued to welcome me as a part of her life, well, let's just say I am so glad she did, for my marriage has been happier as a result. If she had not been the person who fought cancer for the last three years with grace, dignity, spirit, and an unflagging faith that ended each email with "trusting Him now more than ever," her struggle would have been much more difficult for Gena and me and everyone else around us.
And now her struggle is over. She has entered that place and time and presence that are promised to all of us who know Christ. She is at peace. And it is time, oh how it is time, for her to be at peace.
Here it is, the day before Christmas Eve, and Elizabeth gets to enjoy a silent, holy night. She gets to sleep, for the first time in months, in heavenly peace.
It reminds me of that carol that so many of us will all sing tomorrow night. For the chance to sleep in heavenly peace is needed by us all.
Oh tiny baby, you who have not been given even a bed on which to lie, sleep in heavenly peace. This one night, after the shepherds have left and before the wise men arrive, sleep peacefully. Tonight, now that the barnyard animals have finally settled down, sleep. For there will not be many peaceful nights for you. Already you know the torment, the turmoil, the torture that lies ahead. You have watched us since creation, so you know that we are building our towers and fighting our wars; you know that we will not let you walk your road very long before somebody gets out the whip and somebody else builds a cross. So tonight, dear child, while you can, sleep in heavenly peace.
Oh quaking shepherds, you who work on the ragged hills and keep watch through the cold nights, sleep in heavenly peace. You have heard what none of us has – the very choir of heaven singing “Alleluia” with harmonies and chords that we cannot even imagine. Tonight, you who have seen glory streaming from the face of a baby can dream about what you have experienced, this gift presented to you. This night, you can sleep in the peace reserved only for those who know they have seen the face of God. That is heavenly peace.
Oh melodious angels, you who sang the anthem you have been preparing since that dark day in Eden, sleep in heavenly peace. We don’t know you well enough to know if you sleep like the rest of us creatures do, but we imagine that this appearance to our human brethren for a concert like none other has left you pleasantly spent. You have done well. Indeed you have inspired us to understand the true greatness of this event. You have earned a rest. Sleep.
Oh sinful world, you who have waited for Messiah and have struggled with your own vices, sleep in heavenly peace. For you who are wearied by temptation and failure, this night of the wondrous star has witnessed new light shed into your darkness, and you can sleep now. Tonight, you no longer have to fear not waking up, for the world has changed. Christ the Savior is born. So tonight, dear children, for the first time, you can sleep in heavenly peace.
And tonight, and every night, Elizabeth knows heavenly peace. Thank God.