Today’s Word from Pastor Tom…

Their ages were age one, two and a half, and almost four. Our one and only time as a family in Hawaii. It was right after Christmas. There were so many things I appreciated about that time in our family life. For one thing, it was genuinely a fun period in our story; my kids were constantly leaving me convulsing in laughter. Another quality, as evidenced by the photo, was their reflexive need to reach for one another. Brenda taught them well. I was often not available to travel with the family but that would not deter Brenda. Brenda’s hands would be full of carry bags but the kids would hang onto one another walking through airports, refusing to let go, always following their mother’s instructions. Holding on was reflexive behavior.

They grew up. It doesn’t happen anymore. Sigh.

Oh well, it’s nice to have memories though. Actually, memories are critically important. The good ones as well as the difficult ones that we have asked God to forgive and bless. My hope, especially at Christmas, is that regardless of how jaundiced or jaded we have become we all might have memories of a time of innocence and blessing. No matter how broken our past or present, I would like to believe there are yet moments that exist somewhere in our story of honest gratitude and generosity. A moment like when children would sit in rapt awe over a Christmas tree or a wrapped present.

I watched my three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter lose her mind when the Disney float went by in the Macy’s parade on television. I mean lose her mind with glee and joy. Sometimes we experience joy vicariously. I do, a lot. I feel a lot vicariously through the experience of others. You know, like when your grandchild’s joy fills you with joy?

Even if she has a death grip on your hair while riding on your shoulders.

So, here’s my Advent/Christmas wish for you. Find a moment of holiday joy, from any time in your life, and breathe it in anew. There is so much in our world that is unglued, so much that is wrong. Odds are it will be just as messed up tomorrow, regardless if you decide to not obsess over it for just one night. Instead, hold onto that joy-filled memory like my children held onto each other with an intentionality that was life giving.

That’s how Jesus holds onto us; with a forgiving, gracious gift of God’s love, intended to empower us for freed-up living. Jesus will not let us go. That’s our Christmas gift. God gifted us with the Savior. Find a Christmas memory that puts a smile on your face and cling to it, if only for a few hours.

Okay, now to the important stuff… your Christmas shopping. I want to make sure you have my sizes? Hey, hey! Just kidding! Remember? Smile and give thanks?

Let’s keep holding to one another in love, like our life depends on it.

I love you,
Pastor Tom