December 2015 - LPNI

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December 2015

LPNI DevotionDecember 2015
Christmas Memories

I actually do not know how far back my heritage in Lutheranism goes.  However, I do know that I am the fourth generation to belong to my home congregation in Illinois, USA.   When young pastors join our staff, I tell them that not only am I ‘old in age’, I am also ‘old in heritage’.  I pray that my Lord will give me the words and actions to portray a faithful image of this precious Lutheran heritage.
My childhood memories of December and the excitement of Christmas are multifaceted.  They were joyful on many levels: family gatherings where we got to see our grandparents as well as aunts and uncles; playing with cousins upstairs, away from the watchful eyes of our parents; jumping on the many sleds attached by ropes behind the tractor, always being on the alert for others who spill off their sleds; and of course, time off from school because of severe weather conditions.
Then finally Christmas Eve would arrive. My family would gather around our little evergreen tree in the living room and my parents would give each of us children one gift to open.  As I write this, I can feel myself smile inside as I recall sitting on the couch  ̶  trying very hard to be patient.  I wonder now if part of my excitement was not the “present” itself, but actually the anticipation of knowing that we, as church school children, were to fulfill the assignment, the responsibility, the privilege of sharing the story of Jesus’ birth later that night at the Christmas Eve church service.   
One Christmas Eve, when I was in second grade, my family drove to church as gentle white snowflakes hit the windshield of the car.  We arrived and walked past the cemetery to enter a side door so I could join my Sunday school teacher and classmates.  My mother took my coat with her, and I pushed wrinkles out of my new dress, a gift of a dark blue, soft velvet dress.   After the thrill of processing into the sanctuary during the opening hymn and standing on the altar steps, we quieted to listen as the older children took turns narrating the Christmas story from Luke 2.
It came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed ...  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night …  And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.   And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying…  
This was our cue!  Our teacher put up her right hand and pointed at us with her finger!  We opened our mouths to proclaim clearly and loudly: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men! We did it!  Our teacher had a smile on her face!  We were the heavenly hosts!  I looked around and took a deep breath as the older children continued with the story.  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Today again, we sing together with the angels and all of the heavenly hosts, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 
Karen Hardecopf, RN, FCN, Certified Lay Minister
Programming Coordinator, LCMS Parish Nursing, USA
Parish Nurse at Cross Lutheran Church and School
Yorkville, IL 60560 USA
khardecopf@hiscross.org
    
 
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