As a pastor, the Christmas season brought extra work loads, meetings and message preps. Peel off my griping and complaining, however, and you’ll find my heart overjoyed and humbled at being one of the many to lead God’s people in celebrating the birthday of our King. The shepherds, the angels, the road-trip to Bethlehem. It is all so magical; even to your pastor.
For me, I love the “feel” of the worship services. The words “Joyful,” “Adore,” and “Merry” drip from everyones lips as the candle light cuts through the darkness of the evening.
The worship story unfolds so smoothly until that one part of the service that seems to throw a wet blanket on the whole party. The Prayers. Before you cast the heretical stone, let me explain. Look through any worship folder and eventually you see this part of the prayers announced that previously made my skin crawl. Maybe as an insert; maybe as a simple statement; it is the prayer for those “who have lost loved ones.” I have so many theological complaints about the statement itself (Are they really lost? Do I have the power to loose them? etc. etc. blah. blah. blah). But reminding the congregation that this Christmas will be different from all others; that someone who lived in your life for many (or a few) years is not going to be around; that the person who lit up your heart and everyone else’s was gone, forever; this never seemed to be on my worship party event list. One year, I was so disgusted with this dam that was set up in the river of our praise that I jumped over it all together. (Come to think of it, I remember the pianist scrambling to the keyboard as I suddenly announced the final hymn… ah, good times).
This year, I have a different take on those prayers. I still wish we wouldn’t point out the obvious fact that Makenzie will not be with our family this year (or any others), but I celebrate that she is eating birthday cake with our King Jesus. I celebrate the truth that heaven is real and that I will be there with Makenzie to praise Him in person. I look forward to holding up candles with her and secretly dripping wax on the wings of the angel Michael. I can’t wait to harmonize with her as we belt out “Joyful, Joyful we adore thee!” to the One who made heaven possible for a sinner like me.
Our family has not lost Makenzie, this Christmas. We all know exactly where she is. But as we weep quietly in the back of the bough draped church, we will thank God for the past 18 times that we celebrated Christmas with our oldest daughter. Merry Christmas, Makenzie; Merry Christmas.
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