The Third Sunday of Advent

16 Dec

The Third Sunday in Advent is for JOY.  My father died in December 1988, three days before that 3rd Sunday in Advent.  I hurried to the hospital in Philadelphia when I learned he was very ill with pneumonia, but he was gone before I arrived.  I was grateful that his body was still warm, as I was able to give him one last hug.  I came back to New York to preach on that Sunday (before returning to Philadelphia for the funeral service on Monday).  But there I was standing in the pulpit delivering my sermon on JOY, until I shared with the congregation halfway through the sermon that my Dad had died.  This tragic weekend has brought back the memory of that 1988 Advent.  I never was able to get fully ready for the usual family Christmas festivities that year.  But one thing I remember for sure was how very much it meant to me to be with my congregation that Sunday, to allow them to be pastors and ministers and loving understanding friends for ME in my grief.  Isn’t that what we all need on a Sunday in Advent where the whole nation is in mourning for 20 little children and their six adult teachers and friends?  To be surrounded with our loving, caring understanding community of faith. 

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