Christmas Eve is a time to reflect on the blessings in one’s life. My life is full of blessings beyond measure, but tonight I’m acutely aware of one in particular; a man who is no longer on this earth, but one who still lives on in my heart.
Jim Johnson meant a lot to me, and I will write about this extraordinary man at a later time, but for tonight I want to share his wood carving. Jim began this hobby years ago when he began designing a “Santa Claus” each year, then carved one for each member of his family. Each year the design changed, and each person in his family received the same hand carved “Santa Claus” as a gift at Christmas. After a few years, Jim began to carve a few extra figurines each year to give to friends, and I was fortunate enough to be included in that number.
A few years later, Jim quit carving “Santa Claus” figurines and decided to begin work on a Christmas nativity scene instead. Each year he carved a piece or two from the traditional Christian nativity scene and gave them as Christmas gifts to his family and friends. Jim carved Mary, Joseph, the manger with Baby Jesus, the kings, a shepherd and sheep, and the angel was to be this year’s final piece.
Jim’s health gradually deteriorated during 2012, and on September 23rd, he passed away at the age of 90. He had wanted to complete all of the angels, the final pieces for his hand carved nativity scenes, but the Lord didn’t give him quite enough time to complete the work he started. Jim carved most of the angels, those for his children and grandchildren, but wasn’t able to find the strength for all that he wanted. My set is one that will forever be without a hand carved angel, but that is fine with me, because every time I look at this beautiful set for the rest of my life, I will know that Jim was the angel for me. The herald angel announced to the world that Jesus was alive in this world, and Jim did the same to me, and everyone else he touched during his life. Thank you Jim, for being such a powerful witness to God’s love: I’m thinking of you tonight!