Psalm 30:3-5 – O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
My mother, "of good old Scottish stock", and a Presbyterian all her life, went from the amenities of a city in Ontario to a small frontier town in north-eastern British Columbia. She saw, and was part of the community's growth from one muddy street with a hitching post at the Co-op to the bustling community it is today. She was also very much a part of the growth of our Presbyterian Church, from playing the organ, singing in the choir, to doing the church bulletin on the old Gestetner. She taught us to be thankful for what we have, and that no matter what, we don't have to look far to see someone worse off than we are. We learned about volunteering, caring and doing things for others and being kind to strangers.
Through adversity, her faith never faltered. At 64, on her way to the operating room for bypass surgery, she smiled at me and said "I am not afraid; I am in His hands". At 75, her mind began betraying her and my parents entered the Care Home where mom had played the organ for the residents so many times in years gone by.
It was not possible for us to be together for Christmas 1992 and I was phoning her every morning to "chat". On the 24th, upon hearing that I would be there in January, she gave a little huff and said "Not until then? Well, I'm coming to see you real soon". Realizing that I might perhaps be giving her "permission", I said softly, "That would be nice, Mom, I'd like that." At 6 a.m. Christmas morning, I was "awakened" by her voice telling me to get the stockings filled. I did, then went to phone her. The pause on the other end prepared me for the words that my mother had just passed away. We chose to accept her passing as a gift, a new birth, as a way she could be with all of us every Christmas, of truly being "Home for Christmas". She hadn't liked what her mind was doing; she had been very unhappy. All that had been released on the most beautiful, peaceful day of the year, a day when the most beautiful hymns ever sung, were created.
Prayer: Lord, we pray for all those who, for any reason, find this time of year to be difficult. We pray that they may be touched by a stranger if they have no friend; by a friend if they have no family; with a smile, an understanding heart, and an open hand. May they, too, find peace through finding you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.Perhaps you could be that stranger, offering a smile when someone seems cranky, an outstretched hand when it's needed, extra food for the "gathering boxes" or any other "random act of kindness". We need only to listen, and we will be guided.