We normally have 8-10 faithful pray-ers at the Faith Church prayer meeting each Wednesday evening. This week we had 27.
On Sunday night, a lady in our church family, who lives just a few doors down the road from the church building, was walking to a Bible study Christmas party, and she was struck by a car as she crossed the road. Her injuries are severe, and she has been in a persistent vegetative state ever since. I had a first in my short tenure as pastor yesterday as I sat with her family and the neuro-trauma staff of our hospital to discuss the likelihood of removing her from life support.
Those who knew her remember that, though she had a very difficult life, she laughed loud, smiled broadly, and served God with all heart. My last memory of her was a week ago, as she stood behind the food counter in our church kitchen helping serve a meal to kids who had come for a Children’s Ministry event.
She is part of the reason why we had to bring extra chairs into our prayer meeting room. The tragedies in Portland and Connecticut filled our hearts with grief too.
Over the last few weeks it seems like the light and life of Christmas has been shaded by darkness and death. At Faith Church we regularly start our prayer meetings with a psalm of praise. This past week I used Psalm 23, which famously mentions the valley of the shadow of death. The image is quite vivid: high walls of a ravine that shadow daylight and invite treachery from thieves. It was a real-to-life scene that the author of the psalm, David, knew quite well. You might not be in a ravine, but you feel David speaking to you.
And we’re supposed to be happy and celebrate the birth of Christ in a few days. Celebrating can feel like such a burden when we’re in pain. We have a sister church that holds a Blue Christmas service every year because many people can’t fathom singing “Joy to the World.”
Tomorrow at Faith Church we finish our series studying the Minor Prophets with the prophet Malachi. The people in Malachi’s day felt like worshipping God was a burden too, mostly because they lost sight of what it meant to be in relationship with God. I wonder if we are like them. Perhaps you might read Malachi before joining us tomorrow. Look especially for how God responds to the people. Does God have emotion? How does he feel? It would be great to discuss this.