Precious Pilgrim,

I'd like to share two interesting happenings, which occurred over the Christmas Season. The first one took place on the 4th Sunday of Advent, just four days before Christmas. I was sitting in my usual seat in church, first row, second person in the choir stalls. One of the advantages of this position in being a little elevated at the front of the church, I can see the congregation. My family likes to sit in the very back. I caught myself craning around and searching every chance I could get. I saw no family members. Their absence was beginning to really settle heavy on me. I thought about the Scripture that tells of the host who had a party and none of the invited guests came. I thought about how sad and hurt our Lord must be when we decline His hospitality. I thought about how disappointed I was and that the "grans," my grandchildren, were going to miss the Nativity pageant which followed the service. I was really becoming internally pitiful and had to stop and give myself a good silent talking to: "Just why are you here, Lucy? To worship and to adore and to be fed, so stop this. Get back on track."

I settled back into the service. I faced forward physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My eyes came into focus and much to my delight and sheer joy, there, straight in front of me behind the organ screen in the chapel stood my eldest son waving at me. He was holding his six-month-old son. I was thrilled, overjoyed -- now I could party and worship. I knew I needed to hold that precious grandchild. So, as soon as the congregation started to come forward for Communion, I got up and went and grabbed that precious grandson of mine and a bottle and took him back to the choir with me. There he lay in my arms as content as could be, drinking his bottle and then falling to sleep as we quietly sang hymns. It was a tender moment for me and I think also for many in the congregation. There were many sweet smiles given as they passed by for Communion.

A cuddled, sleeping baby in the choir just seemed to be the proper protocol for the 4th Sunday of Advent and who knows, it might become a new tradition in our church. And guess what? All my group was there after all. I just hadn't seen them. We all went together for Communion. I carried the sleeping baby who received a blessing and then carefully handed him to his waiting father -- a sweet, sweet blessed moment. I couldn't help but think of how Mary and Joseph must have felt as they brought her Son to the temple on the 8th day after His birth to be named and blessed. An awesome holy moment.

I wish I could end your letter with this warm, fuzzy, precious moment and call it a day, Pilgrim -- but no, I must confess the awful, the disappointing, the one that points up to my human struggle, if you don't mind.

Well, needless to say, the next three days before Christmas were a bit chaotic. Reason being: I pride myself on not shopping for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, which makes for a very harried Advent. And reason being: I had one husband, four children, three spouses, four grandchildren, and three dogs arriving at the lake Christmas Eve. There would be Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast, Christmas lunch to prepare and serve. All went as scheduled and all was wonderful. The house was decorated "to the nines." The meals were good. The cleanup was easy, for the boys helped. The family fellowship was incredible. So, what's the problem?

Well, by Christmas dinner, we had four more to unexpectedly arrive -- my mama, sister-in-law and two of her sons. They weren't the problem; they were an added blessing. At the end of the meal, my sister-in-law announced that she'd brought a cake for dessert which one of her sons had been given. I said, "Great." This family time could also act as a birthday! I had ice cream and candles to add. Now whose birthday is next? Those in the running mentioned their dates. It was decided that nephew Tom's was the closest, so we'd celebrate his.

My son-in-law quietly said, "You know whose birthday it is?" "Whose?" "Jesus!!!" -- Hello! Can you believe it? Would you admit it, Pilgrim? Here I'd been running around as if my head had been cut off for weeks, daily making my list and checking it twice. All of the busyness was supposedly in order to celebrate our Lord Jesus' birthday and here it was His day and I couldn't even come up with His Name. Lord, forgive. He does. He does. He does!

Now it is the first day of the year - the Holy Name of Jesus - the Anniversary of the day Jesus was circumcised and named - Jesus - our Lord saves.

As I've meditated on this image of the naming of Jesus today, the Scripture which keeps coming to mind is Philippians 2:10a. It says, "That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow." Bended knee. There can be no other response when we have our eyes on Him. Do you think, Pilgrim?

Some days are better than others, at least I've found that the case. This year the Christ child came more poignantly on the 4th Sunday in Advent as I held my six-month-old grandson. And this year the Christ Child came even more poignantly at our Christmas night family dinner when His birthday was proclaimed by my dear son-in-law. Thank you.

The journey continues. May this year, Pilgrim, be a blessed one and may each one of us daily grow in the knowledge and love of our Lord Jesus. May He infuse our hearts with His love so that we become more His instruments of humility, love, and joy.

(c)2002 Precious Pilgrim Ministries