1) I preached my first Christmas Eve service
2) Our house got robbed
Our house got robbed the Friday before Christmas while I was at lunch with a friend. I had been spending the weeks prior to Christmas reflecting on the word Immanuel. The mournful feeling left by being robbed unlocked a deeper understanding of what Immanuel means (God is with us). Here is an excerpt from my sermon. It follows the reading of the birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke.
Our robbery came after a long line of unfortunate events for us. I'll name a few to give you the context. We just moved from Portland to San Antonio to be closer to family and our condo has not sold. I've been through 4 phones since September, my wife has been in the emergency room twice, and two months ago somebody created a counterfeit copy of our ATM card and emptied out our bank account.
Needless to say, when we found out that our house had been robbed, we felt all of the emotions of the loss and pain that we have been experiencing since we moved from Portland. I guess I experienced the worst side of my humanity - loneliness, brokenness, hopelessness, and insecurity.
Then I had to get ready for this sermon.
And you know what? In my brokenness I began to feel God at work.
1. While my wife and I embraced with tears slowly falling down our cheeks...there in my brokenness, in the midst of my paint, I began to experience IMMANUEL - GOD WITH US.
2. That night when my son had my undivided attention and we played, sang, and read books...there in the midst of my brokenness and pain I began to simultaneously experience JOY IN MY WORLD.
3. And later, as I rocked my son to sleep, there in the darkness and silence of his room my heart continued to hurt as I felt the weight of all that had happened...yet I sensed God picking me up and rocking me. And, in the midst of the pain and brokenness I experienced A GLIMPSE OF SALVATION/DELIVERANCE here on earth.
Interestingly enough, a ton of people donated money so that we could replace nearly all of the things that were stolen. Getting our stuff back was really just a bonus. The ultimate blessing was all that I learned about faith, trust, the power of tears and hugs, and the importance of a loving community.