Post Christmas check-in.
How are you doing? Are you rested and recovered from the blur of last-minute preparations?
December 24, 7:00 pm
There is excitement in the air! Lights are twinkling, carols are playing, gifts are waiting. All is merry and bright.
December 25, 7:00 pm
Christmas is over. I ate too much. Tomorrow we have to clean up the mess, return and exchange gifts, and put all the decorations away. And where on earth is that gift for Uncle Joe that never arrived in the mail?
Beyond the Manger
The week before Christmas, my husband and I began watching The Chosen. (If you have not discovered this new series about the life and ministry of Jesus, be sure to check it out.)
Two days after Christmas, we discovered a special episode about Jesus’ birth. After watching it, I began thinking about the day after Jesus was born. What happened that day? The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but most likely, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus left the stable to pay their taxes. And the manger went back to being a feeding trough for the animals. Imagine that.
For one night, that manger became a humble bed for our Savior, yet over 2,000 years later, it still fills us with hope. So, as you begin packing away your decorations this week, and Christmas 2020 becomes a distant memory, remember that Immanuel — God with us — remains forever.
On November 13th, our daughter was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The moment she received that phone call, our three busy lives came to a screeching halt. Since she lives at home with us, my husband and I went into immediate quarantine, while she began 10 days of isolation in her bedroom.
We are grateful that our daughter’s illness was relatively mild and did not require medical intervention or hospitalization. I am praising God that my husband and I tested negative, and remained symptom-free throughout our quarantine which ended on Thanksgiving Day. We are slowly getting back to some semblance of “normal”.
Our family is not unique. At any given time I’m sure you know a family that is quarantined. And if you have not lost a loved one to the pandemic, you probably know someone who has. The isolation and separation are painful as well. My mom is in a nursing home 30 minutes away, yet I have been unable to see her since last February.
When this pandemic hits so close to home, you learn to appreciate the people we often take for granted.
Thanksgiving was a time to reflect on what matters most:
Friends, Neighbors and Relatives
During our time in quarantine, we were called, emailed and texted daily by so many people who were concerned about us. They offered to shop or run errands, and one neighbor delivered a plate of warm cookies to our doorstep.
In the early days after our daughter’s diagnosis, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were worried, not just about her, but about our own health. During those 14 days away from our faith community, we were covered by prayers, and we felt every one of them. We knew we were never alone.
Then there are the “extras” in life that we seldom think about as we use them day-to-day:
Many of us adapted to the challenges of working from home last winter and early spring. I am grateful that I was able to connect to my church and still fulfil my duties as Office Manager remotely. Thanks to a reliable internet connection, I sent emails, updated our website and social media, and uploaded videos for Sunday worship.
For two weeks, I had to forgo my Sunday afternoon ritual of shopping at Wegman’s. (Yes, I actually enjoy grocery shopping.) It’s not quite the same, but I was able to load my virtual shopping cart using their app on my phone. Two days later I arrived at the curbside pickup, popped my trunk and received my order without leaving my car. Technology is truly amazing!
Blessings in Abundance
My family is blessed beyond measure, and giving gratitude has become a top priority.
Our daughter is mostly recovered. Her symptoms were relatively mild and her company paid for the time she needed to isolate. She still tires easily and has occasional headaches, but she was able to taste all her favorite dishes at the Thanksgiving table. (Losing her sense of taste and smell was the first indication of her illness.)
Tomorrow I will return to my office in person. It’s a special time for our church as we enter Advent season, and we also anticipate the arrival of our new pastor. And as today is the first Sunday of Advent, we lit the Candle of Hope during worship. We take shelter in the hope of the Christmas season, and we anticipate the birth of our Savior who brings light to a broken world.