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Tuesday night’s gathering of the Childhood Cancer Awareness Group of Coffee County at the courthouse was equal parts a celebration of life and a somber remembrance service. The group hosted its third annual Christmas tree lighting service at 6:30; however, the purpose of the event was much more than to simply light a tree.
Shep Johnson, pastor of First Baptist Church, addressed the crowd first and referenced the story found in Mark 2 and Luke 5 of the paralytic whose friends lowered him through a roof to see Jesus for healing. Using this story as an illustration, Pastor Johnson admonished the group to take on the rope and be a part of a problem that needs a solution.
After Johnson’s remarks, the group presented each childhood cancer survivor with a gift cards (their siblings received one as well), a monetary gift, a special Christmas ornament, and Christmas portrait package courtesy of Ginny Carver Photography.
Then everyone moved to the large Christmas tree on the courthouse lawn. There, the children, their families, and the families of those who lost their battle with cancer placed ornaments on the tree. They were shaped like butterflies but came in three different colors: Silver denoted survivors, blue stood for those still undergoing treatments, and white signified angels – those children are no longer with us. Once the ornaments were in place, the group illuminated the tree.
The ceremony was a touching way to honor the children and families affected by this dreaded disease. At the same time, however, it also served as another way of driving home the seriousness of the struggle these families face every day. The holidays are a time of happiness and giving, and a Christmas tree is but one representation of the joy people feel this time of the year. With cancer, though, there are no off days, no breaks, no respite – no matter what time of the year it happens to be. Please keep these kids and their families, and the families of those who have passed on, in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.