Our morning started late with sausage patties, buttermilk pancakes slathered with apricot-honey butter, and hot coffee. But I forgot to add the baking powder so our flap-jacks were more like flat-jacks…
We gathered at the table and still managed to enjoy our meal on this Fourth Sunday of Advent and our third week of missing worship due to Covid in our family.
Not being able to attend worship is weird and lonely. Your soul feels out of tune. You miss the liturgy full of prayer and song, the fellowship of your friends, and the communion of the Lord. The morning slips away and you track time with thoughts like, “The first service begins in 12 minutes” and you imagine people you know showing up, getting out of their cars and entering the sanctuary. Moments pass and you realize the second service is already halfway through. You imagine where exactly the congregation is in the Order of Worship; The Confession of Faith? The Prayers of the People?
After breakfast we snuggled in the living room for reading, discussion, and prayer. The quarantine has kept us close and God has been especially kind in making family time good for our souls. There is still presence even in absence.
Our devotional time over I started changing clothes to take the dog out for a walk. I was getting my boots on when Angela saw a familiar car slowly pulling down our driveway. She called out to me as I was donning my cap, “Laurence, I think John’s here”, and then her voice cracked with a sob, “There’s another car…it’s the church…they’ve come to our house!”
Parking in our muddy yard, several families made their way to the front of our house with boxes of gifts: coffee, books, cash, wine, food, clothing, housewares, and lots of cards and notes. This wonderful bounty was placed before us on the porch and then, and then they started caroling.
We sang with them, standing in our doorway, doing our best to keep our composure, being overwhelmed with their love.
After they all left, I couldn’t help but reflect on what had just happened and, merry, as in, Merry Christmas, just wasn’t accurate enough.
The word, Merry, has retained its original meaning: giving pleasure; delightful. And is more than appropriate in use as a modifier for Christmas greetings and the overall sentiment of the season. But that is not what happened this morning. Members of our congregation did not lift our spirits by making us merry. No, our tears were not caused by delight but by care. Our friends showed us that they cared.
Of course, we knew already that they cared. For the last three weeks they have stayed in touch, told us that they were praying for us, offered to run errands for us…we knew they were thinking of us—but then they showed up and made us feel all the more loved.
They were, young and old, acting just like Jesus, going out of their way to bless others.
Christmas got started for me, personally, right then and there, as a living diorama assembled itself and sang the story hymns of Christmas to me and my family.
We were reminded that the reason Jesus came was because we needed Him.
I do pray that you all have a Merry Christmas. But I hope that especially during the remaining days of Advent, and throughout Christmastime to Epiphany, that you experience the loving care of Jesus Christ through others and that you do the same for all the people around you.
Love to you all from the Windhams,