By Manning Brown

Every Christmas brings with it the reflection, and in many cases the nostalgia, of Christmases past. I was recently watching a TV show that highlights Christmas through the decades. It is fun to be reminded of the toys I grew up with, many of which are now considered collector’s items. But these shows also bring back the feel of Christmases past. As both an Air Force brat and now Air Force retiree, remembering Christmas over the years brings back a mix of emotions.

I remember my father coming back for Christmas leave while he was stationed in Guam for a year at the height of the Vietnam War. I remember not being old enough to understand that he wasn’t home for good and that he would be going back in two weeks, holding his hand and not wanting to let go.

I remember my own experiences of being away from my wife and sons for Christmas, wishing them “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” over the phone. It wasn’t easy, but there were no regrets with any of it either. The men and women with whom I celebrated Christmas during those deployments were also family. And if I couldn’t be with my wife and sons, there was no one else with whom I would rather spend the holidays.

This Christmas, many of the men and women serving our country will celebrate the season away from home. There is no doubt that they would rather be home. Yet they have chosen to serve their country, and in doing so accepted the responsibility of having to go—to go and defend our freedom and protect the rights and privileges we enjoy, which are all too easily taken for granted.

The GARBC currently has one chaplain serving in Southwest Asia, with many months left in his deployment. Another chaplain will be leaving for a six-month deployment in mid-January. Both these men have answered two calls: the call to serve God in ministry and the call to serve our country.

Remember to pray for our chaplains and all the men and women who are serving our country, especially those who are deployed. Pray also for their families, for they, too, are coping with the long separation that deployments bring. But also remember to celebrate. Celebrate the birth of Christ and the eternal hope He brings to those who call Him Lord and Savior. Celebrate by cherishing time with family and friends and all the joy the season brings, for that is why the men and women who wear the uniform of our great nation choose to serve, so that those of us back home can do those very things.

Merry Christmas!

Manning Brown is director of Regular Baptist Chaplaincy.