Well, typically for me, the final post for Advent is late! Chalk it up to a marathon workday for church on the day itself, and a recuperative day yesterday.
In the midst of a strenuous Christmas Eve morning and evening, I had an interesting mid-day. My pastor and I have some parallels in our life, though she is a widow about ten years older than I am, with several grown children and grandchildren, and I am single with no children. Because my year has been an uncertain one, with various periods of unemployment and underemployment on the day job front, I was creative with gifts of time in addition to very modest purchased gifts throughout the year. One gift that had not been "redeemed" until yesterday was one to my pastor, a gift of labor at church or parsonage, from her birthday earlier in the year. I reminded her of this when she mentioned she wouldn't have time to go somewhere for lunch after worship, since she was expecting her son in for Christmas at some point later in the day and wanted to do some last-minute cleaning. It was good to be allowed to help in this; we both agreed that the work was easier and went faster when shared.
When I finished my part at the parsonage, I went back over to the church kitchen, where I had a crockpot of soup cooking. I set up for our simple supper, which was waiting for us after our 6:00 service. For over an hour, we nibbled on soup and biscuits and relaxed, sans shoes, reflecting on the blessings of the day and what was yet to come at the 11:00 worship service.
This might not seem like much for those with busy families, but it is a very rare experience for me. Many years single, I haven't often shared meals with anyone except two cats. (Forgive me, girls, but I sometimes long for human conversation. Yours is somewhat beyond me!) I live simply, in a neighborhood far from where I work, where I basically sleep and take care of basic needs. My pastor gave me a gift I don't think she realizes: her companionship. She was Christ to me on what is often a very lonely day.
Thank you, dear Jesus, for shining through our church's shepherd on the day we celebrate your birth. Thank you for our meal and conversation, and for work lightened through the sharing. And for the gift of your coming yet again into my life and that of our church, I thank you most of all.