Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd

I have always had a deeper affinity for Lent over Advent which tends to strike most people as curious. After all, Advent is about getting ready for Christmas, it is about gift giving and Christmas trees and beautiful decorations and the baby Jesus. When our children were small it was about Frederick and Nelson’s and Santa Claus pictures, and three generations of shopping downtown, and lunch in the department store dining room. It was magical. Mostly.

Shopping for our three children was usually pretty straightforward with Brenda regularly reminding me, “We can afford it” (I so wanted to believe her). Shopping for Brenda, though, has typically been fraught with an anxiety matched only by being dispatched to purchase the Christmas Tree on my own. Did the tree shopping alone once… some mistakes you only need to make once.

One can only purchase so many Star Wars spatulas, smart wool socks and Snickers for a Christmas stocking. I know, I am embarrassing. How do you say “I love you” without it costing $$$$? You see, I am stuck with a childhood memory… I had $5 to purchase my mother’s present. I went into a neighborhood jewelry store and for my money I was able to purchase a broach. It was hideous. Mother showed good taste by accidentally losing it but I got the message. I do better with Lent. Lent is about letting go and giving up; Advent is not.

It seems to me there is an auditory scale that pretty accurately gauges the merits of a gift received. It ranges from “Oooooo” at one end of the scale to “Gahhhhhh” (silence can be substituted) at the other. On a Holy level, Advent and Lent have one important quality in common: they are both about preparing for love. God vulnerable in an infant, and God vulnerable on a cross. While they both look like love, it is not difficult to assume the Holy birth was more likely to elicit an “Oooooo.”

I have never been able to look at this photo of my daughter and granddaughter without a warm sigh of gratitude for the love present. Similarly, scenes of selfless people being generous also elicit a spiritual response of gratitude. These are for me two scenes of love on this Christmas Eve that evoke an “Ooooo.” Scenes of love that inspire hope.

There is a Holy love that seems so implicit in the gaze between a mother and baby, as well as God’s love for God’s children who in a time of need lovingly don flesh as God’s hands and feet for one another.

No matter how dark the newscast these days, most news services, in the spirit of Christmas, conclude their telecast with some heart-warming story of selfless living/giving. Since I am fairly easily moved to tears, I seldom escape without having to clear my throat. I am a regular rock of jell-o. There are so many reasons this season to express tears of sadness: loss of community, isolation, pandemic, people dying at a rate not experienced in 100 years, people seemingly indifferent to people dying at a rate not seen in a 100 years, holidays spent alone… “Gahhh!” I say, “Gahhh!” There are just so many reasons to believe this year is just like a bad gift given.

Focus on Jesus. Focus on God’s love for us that is no less precious than the love of a mother and an infant. Focus on God’s love for us such that nothing holy will ever be spared from us in our need. The author of the stars of the heavens, the creator of atoms, and DNA, and Super Novas, and children who laugh, and, and, and… loves us and has put on flesh to dwell among us. This is Christmas Eve. Focus on Jesus and for the next few hours choose to believe that God is yet in charge and history continues to yet be shaped for eternity. Jesus is our proof. Merry Christmas.

May God bless your gift giving, Pastor Tom