December 31 always washes a wave of nostalgia and memories over me. This year is no different.
As I grow older, I have come to realize that each year will inevitably bring more and more loss to my life. This year those losses were way too many and some of those who left this world were simply way too young.
In the Twelfth Chapter of First Corinthians, we hear:
"But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body . . . If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy."
As I watched and lived with people who suffered losses this year, as a member of the Body of Christ, I suffered with them. And in those moments of joy this year, I shared those joys as well. For me, this is one of the most challenging and comforting aspects of being a member of Christ's body all at the same time.
A few days ago, I posted a photo of the manger scene at Ascension Church in Oak Park, Illinois. Remember?
I commented on how lovely I thought the use of the lavender was in the scene. Well, this morning, one of my colleagues here at WLP, a choir member at Ascension, let me in on a little secret. You see, at the very first Christmas Vigil Mass at the parish, a young child always carried the statue of the infant Jesus in the opening procession. Well, at that Mass last week, it so happens that the child dropped the statue in that procession and the figure broke into several pieces. After Mass, parishioners tried to glue the pieces back together before the next Mass, but the glue just wouldn't hold. So, they cleverly used the lavender flowers to wrap the figure, covering the cracks and adding the lavender in the other places so that it all looked intentional. Something similar happened here at our home office last week as well. We have a manger scene in our lobby and the figure of the child Jesus is only placed there once Christmas arrives. And guess what happened when the figure was being brought to the manger scene? You guessed it; it was dropped and broke into about fifteen pieces. One member of our WLP staff used wood glue and managed to make Jesus whole again. The only problem? We never found one of his arms. Here is the result:
Our clever staff member wrapped the figure in Spanish Moss, covering the area of the missing arm.
As members of the Body of Christ, we often do our best to cover the cracks and the missing pieces of that Body. But, when the truth is told, we know that we are broken. We can't escape the fact that Christ's Body, the Church, is broken and repaired time and time again. But we live in the hope that it is never beyond repair. And for those for whom 2013 has been a year of broken hearts, dashed memories, and deep, deep losses, this is the hope that can sustain and nourish as 2014 opens before us.
Dear followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray, thank you for following these pages this year. Thank you for traveling another year of my own journey of faith, with its broken-ness and joy.
May 2014 bring you the hope that comes only from Christ.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.