Monday, December 20, 2010

Fourth Monday of Advent

I've seen several Christmas miracles this week. They probably don't really qualify as miracles, but that's what I like calling them.

I visited a shut-in who lives in an assisted living facility that is easily the nicest I have ever seen. It is a converted mansion, with a wing of small apartments added on. When I go to visit this person, I usually do it on a Friday afternoon, particularly because they host a wine and cheese reception at that time. So we usually hang out for a little bit, go up to his room for me to serve him communion, and then I drop him back off in the lobby where his lady friend waits patiently for him.

I visited this past Friday. We'd already taken care of communion for the month during a prior visit, but I'd forgotten to deliver his offering envelopes so I made an extra trip. Another church member who usually visits him on Fridays was there as well. And while we talked, an older couple came down the hall and maneuvered to an available couch nearby. The wife was confined to a wheelchair, the husband pushing her along. They stopped by the Christmas tree, at which point the man said, "Do you remember that you used to help decorate this?" He helped her out of her chair and onto the couch, and after he sat next to her, he wrapped his arm around her and she set her head against his shoulder. And there they just sat.

It wasn't a miracle per se, but I thought about how much care she obviously needs, and how dedicated he seems to providing it for her. And on this afternoon, the only care she needed was him sitting next to her, providing his warmth and touch.

The second was the interaction between my two church members. There was a familiarity there that I can only describe in terms of how much more animated my shut-in became when the other man showed up. He is, I think, one of the few other visitors who stops by, and possibly the only church member who does so. I knew that they see each other quite regularly, but this was one of the few instances where I've been able to see firsthand what has been built over the years due to these visits.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent is always the candle of love. Is love a miracle? I think it is. And so on Friday afternoon, I was privileged to see that miracle at work in several ways in the same place. I could have taken off my shoes to acknowledge the holy ground, but they were actually boots, and still wet from the snow, and they take effort to put on, so I silently toasted the moment with my wine instead.

Worship Notes

~Coffeeson was up with the flu on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Couple that with the sinus/throat thing that I've been dealing with this past week, and I was really wondering how well the service would go. From my perspective, it greatly exceeded my lowered expectations, particularly the sermon. I used both Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25 (which quotes Isaiah 7:14), noting the different reactions that Ahaz and Joseph have to the same assurance of Emmanuel. I asked what kinds of hopes and fears (quoting "O Little Town of Bethlehem") we might be carrying these final few days before Christmas, and how we may hope Emmanuel fulfills, addresses or soothes them. Even with me being slightly sleep-deprived and croaky, there was an energy between me and the congregation that made it something that I couldn't make it on my own. So I was thankful for that.

~By the fourth Sunday of Advent, I go full-bore with Christmas carols. Yesterday was "O Come All Ye Faithful," "I Little Town of Bethlehem," and "What Child Is This." I figure we're in the final days before Christmas, and there is a group of people who don't come to Christmas Eve service for a myriad of reasons, so this and/or the Sunday after Christmas is their worship to mark the holiday.

~Christmas is on a Sunday again next year. Yes, I'm already thinking about that.