I'm well aware in this season of joy that there are some very long nights.
When I was 11 in 1982, both of my parent's mothers died within 9 days of each other, right at the beginning of Advent. This has become a part of the family remembrances right around this time of the year.
And then three years ago today, Berkeley UMC in Austin said goodbye to one of its saints--a woman who taught us how to both die and live, Pat Currie. Her favorite holiday was Christmas, but when she learned that her cancer was untreatable, she began cross-stitching an Easter banner for the church. She had each of her daughters and daughter-in-laws take stitches and then a member of her covenant group finished the edges about 2 weeks before her death. She died after having been in hospice for several days on December 21. We had her memorial service--a service of lessons and carols--on December 23 and we dedicated the banner at the Christmas Eve services the next day.
She is close to my heart this year for some reason. It's the first year I haven't been at Berkeley, and I still am feeling that in-between sense of being a guest in my own appointment. By next year, I will be fully there, but this year, my heart is tugged in many directions.
Which hopefully means that all of the tugging can lead me into the heart of God. When my confidence is waning and I'm not sure even which star I've been looking at, much less following, that's when I start to let the God of Impossible Things guide me.
Six years ago, I preached a sermon on Isaiah 64--about there being many different ways of being "not home" for Christmas. There's the not home when a family member is ill. There's the not home when home is different than you've ever imagined. There's the not at home when you're an empty nester for the first time or the not at home when you've lost someone. At those times we long for Home. But the point of the Incarnation is that Home longs for us too. So I hope and pray that Home comes to you this year--and that you turn around and find it there, impossible but true, waiting with outstretched arms.
May your long nights bring Home to you.
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