Saturday, December 24, 2022

A Christmas Eve Eucatastrophe

[A sermon delivered on Christmas Eve, 2022.]

Brothers and sisters in the Christ Child, grace and peace, hope and joy to you, Amen.

This time of year is bound up in such high hopes.  Like almost no other moment on our calendar, Christmas is a time when we yearn for everything to be just right.  We get all the decorations and the lights in place.  We set plans for family gatherings and parties hoping to see all of our favorite and beloved people.  We even offer up prayers that the weather will cooperate just nicely and give us a white Christmas.  

Yet as it goes with life, rarely does everything go according to plan.  When party plans change we almost expect it.  When the weather doesn’t cooperate, even that we kind of expect, it is Michigan after all.  What really throws us is when tragedy and hardship and suffering find us in this most holy time of year.  So many of us have endured losses at this time of year and they weigh on us, year after year.  They take so long to heal.  Losing loved ones so close to Christmas always seems to affect us more as it interrupts that idea. It interrupts those perfect hopes we so yearned for.  

Friday, December 2, 2022

Thankful Remembering

[Originally published in the Monroe News on December 2, 2022]

I’d like to direct your attention to thankfulness one more time.  I know our calendars have moved past Thanksgiving and Black Friday and into that month of Christmas, but this is more of a year-round topic so I’m going to go with it.  I was able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my Dad’s side of the family in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We were celebrating my grandmother’s 95th birthday as an entire family (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.) in addition to the big Thanksgiving celebration.  

Gathering together as family was reason alone to be thankful.  It is a rare feat to get all of my cousins and I together at the same time as life and vocation have moved us across the country.  As we shared several meals and a heated game of “Ticket to Ride” I was reminded of how wonderful it was to have that time together and how thankful I was to be there.  During the weekend we all wrote memories in a book to share with my grandmother that the joy of the weekend might always be remembered.  My grandmother also invited us grandkids to her house for her to have a chance to impart several heirlooms upon our generation.  These were items that would help us remember our grandmother and wonderful times from her life when the day comes that our Lord calls her home.

When I began to digest the entire weekend I couldn’t tell if it was more about remembering or about thankfulness.  Perhaps both.  It seems that a genuine thankfulness might just be built upon remembering.  When I remember the love my grandmother and my family has shared over the years that naturally makes me all the more thankful.  When I remember my childhood I can be all the more thankful for my parents.  When I remember tough days past I can be more thankful for good days present.  Thankfulness and remembering really do pair nicely together.

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