Over the years, December has proven to be a difficult month for our family. We have suffered significant health issues and loss. At times it has been difficult to hold on to the hope that this season offers.
|no crib for a bed|
My earliest recollection of the true meaning of Christmas was when I was in 5th grade. We did not go to church regularly as a family, but often times we were included and attended with neighbors and friends. The lady across the street was our "before school" babysitter and her family attended a Nazarene church in the neighborhood. I started going to church with them and they held a competition for the kids attending - who could memorize the Christmas Story in its entirety (Luke 2:1-20) .
Back then my memory was much more reliable than it is today and I won the competition. The reward was reciting the story during the church service. As the winner, I also received a Bible. While I didn't attend that church for a long period of time, it had a lasting effect on me.
I have had periods of time when I wasn't attending church. Yet I was always searching. My faith was always a part of me. The particular denominations have varied but in 1983, I found my "forever" church home.
I was actively looking for a good fit at the time when a co-worker, Marlene Shellenburger, invited me to attend St. John's Lutheran Church in Topeka. As I explained to the Pastor when I met with him to discuss joining, "this church felt like I had come home". My sister and I took adult confirmation classes together and were confirmed later that year. I have only changed churches three times since 1983 and it has always been precipitated by a move; never a change of faith.
Ironically, my dad was baptized, confirmed and raised in the Lutheran church. It had been many years since he attended regularly. However, before he died in June, 1985, he had come full circle and was attending with us, as health permitted.
So the other day I heard Faith Hill on the radio singing, "A baby changes everything". A simple line that made me ponder that complex truth. All new parents experience the profound changes that occur while here on earth. However, this song is about the changes that occurred when an unwed teenage mother found herself carrying a child almost 2000 years ago. I am including a link if you haven't heard it.
The last verse sums up the additional reward I received many years ago when my competitive nature memorized what Christmas is all about.
My whole life has turned aroundI was lost but now I'm found
A baby changes everything, yeah
A baby changes everything