No one wants to go to a funeral over Christmas.
No one wants to say goodbye to a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a friend, an Aunt over Christmas. Five years after losing my mother, her sister, Gladys went home. Oh what a day of celebrating those 3 sisters must have had! Mom, Dad and 3 sisters, all home at last!
We said goodbye to my Aunt Gladys last week. I am sure that is not what her children would have wished for. I am sure that is not what her husband, Nels, would have wished for, but it was to be. I was so involved with the message at her celebration, given by Rev. Mary R. Dodgson, I was madly taking notes....."Don't be afraid"...."peace to all women and men on earth", "Glory to God"...."Don't be afraid"....
She went home while we were expecting a blizzard. She went home, but her body waited for the storm, for Christmas Eve, for Christmas Day, for the parties, for the wind, for the drifts, for the digging out, for the cancellations. She was at home, just as He had promised, but we waited with her earthly body, for the day that we would finally put her body to rest, under the blue tarp in Minnesota.
The message, the tree, the decorations, the flowers, the greenery...all said "Celebrate". Her sons' and husband's eyes said, "Mourn".
Jesus said, "Don't be afraid".
This is what you need to look for....a baby lying in a manger, and the angels singing, Glory to God. Peace to all on earth.
We are done with the shopping, done with the gifts, done with the parties and food and festivities to celebrate the birth of a baby, wrapped in a blanket. Now we have time to reflect on the Christmas story.
The pastor equated my Aunt Gladys' passing from this life into her Heavenly life with the birth of Jesus. "That new baby was a grand and glorious servant of Christ. Now, Gladys has been born to new life. She has been re-birthed into another place. Her leaving creates in us a great deal of loss, emptiness and mourning, but in the words of the Angels...."Do not be afraid" -Luke 2
The song I planned to sing, was not to be, something about a technical malfunction caused me to sing, "Amazing Grace" instead, with my God given voice, no accompaniment. I have heard it said before, but it ws true...you actually COULD have heard a pin drop! Every eye was on me, except for those eyes that had closed in prayer, every heart was on the message.
That malfunction made it just as it was meant to be.
"Amazing Grace" Amazing!
Then the pastor switched to another text, found in John 14.
"Do not let this throw you.
You trust in God, don't you? Then you should trust in Me.
I am going ahead of you.
Do not be afraid.
In My Father's house, there are many mansions.
I am going ahead of you to prepare a place for you.
Do not be afraid.
Trust what I am telling you.
If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and get you."
In our distrust, we may say, "Master, we have no idea where we are going. How can we know the road we should take?"
Jesus said, "I am the road. If you know me, you know my Father.
You see Him in me.
Do not be afraid."
All of this makes us wonder again what that home He is preparing looks like. What is Gladys experiencing? What are those 3 sisters experiencing? Is there a room for me????
"Look at the baby.
To see His face is to see the miracle sent to earth, but also, the miracle of new life waiting for us."
"Don't be afraid."
joy in the sharing of his story
God, the Christ-child, love
Emmanuel, come to earth
to set all of us, each one a prisoner,
to set we, the captives, free
Free from the world
from our sin
offering us peace
within his loving arms
spread wide for us
God, given for you, for me
that we may live again
Raymond A. Foss