Thoughts from the Pastor

In the Stillness

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!        ~  Psalm 46:10       

Last December Kate and the boys headed to my mother’s house a few days before Christmas. I joined the family after the Christmas Eve service, driving to Maryland that night. The plan was for my sister, who was pregnant at the time, to also drive to my mother’s on Christmas Eve. My mother was excited that her children were coming for Christmas and doubly excited to have my boys, her grandchildren, with her so she could watch them open their stockings and presents on Christmas morning.

     My mother has always cherished Christmas memories and she told Camden and Asher serval times leading up to Christmas morning how excited she was to be with them to watch them open their gifts. However, on Christmas Eve night, as my sister and her husband finished leading their Christmas Eve service, my sister went into labor, about a month before her projected due date. This threw plans and schedules into chaos as my mother got into a car Christmas Eve night to go be with her daughter as she gave birth.

     My sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl early on Christmas morning; I joked with my sister that it was kind of hard to compete with her Christmas gift! All this wonderful chaos happened while my two boys slept; when they woke up Christmas morning they had no idea that grandma had left and that they had a new cousin. We shared the wonderful news with the boys and asked them if they wanted to go open their stockings. Kate and I expected the boys to respond with a giddy “yes” but much to our surprise Camden said, “not yet.”

     Confused by his response we inquired why he was not ready. Are you hungry? Are you still sleepy? Camden’s response has been one of my proudest moments as a parent. Camden explained that, “I want to wait for grandma to get home because she really wanted to see me open my gifts.” We explained that we had no idea when grandma would get home and that she would understand but he insisted we wait, and Asher agreed.

     And so last year our Christmas morning, despite the chaos of the night before, was quiet and still. We ate breakfast together and played games as a family and indeed both boys waited hours to open their gifts, wanting to share the joy of that moment with their grandmother. The memory of this Christmas morning will stay with me for several reasons. But I am perhaps most thankful for the lesson taught to me by my son. His willingness to wait and be still in a season often defined by chaos and hurry; his willingness to respond to the wonderful chaos of disrupted and unexpected plans with patience, understanding, and love was in itself a Christmas gift.

     We are entering the season of Advent, a season often defined by wonderful chaos. There are gifts to buy, meals to prepare, trips to plan, and decorations to put up. Sometimes though, in our hurry to buy presents we forget to simply be present. It is true that Christ came into the world in a chaotic and unexpected way and yet we are called as a people of faith to be still and wait upon God. May we find time this Christmas season to simply be still and know that Emmanuel is here, God with us. May we find time this Christmas season to simply be present with family and friends. May you have a blessed Advent and Christmas!

                         ~ Pastor Nathan