As I mentioned last week I will be sharing devotions with you every day of Advent. The theme this year comes from the story in Matthew of the Wise Men following the star to Jesus. You are invited to share a story of a “guiding star” in your faith journey. This person could be a friend, family member, stranger you have encountered, Bible character or someone from history. The only requirement is that they have influenced your faith. If you would like to contribute, please e-mail me your submission and I will send it out to the rest of the congregation. I would like to get as many as possible early so that I can plan out the rest of the month. Here is our first one for our Advent journey:
Our Gospel lesson in worship today was from Matthew 24:42-44 in which Jesus talks about being ready for the end of times. Have you ever known someone who was totally ready? When I was a very new pastor, serving my first three churches in West Virginia, I had a quite elderly parishioner who attended worship every Sunday. She lived in the same holler the church was in, in a house on her farm that she had shared with her husband and children. She still kept her own garden and grew hundreds of butternut squash, among many other things. Her daughter’s house was on the other end of the farm so they could see each other’s houses out the window with the farm in between.
This woman went into the emergency room one day because she wasn’t feeling quite right. She was diagnosed with cancer so advanced she wasn’t expected to live more than a few weeks. She told them that if that was the case there was no need to be in the hospital, that she wanted to die on her farm. She drove herself home. She stayed at her house for a few more days, living as she had, until the discomfort of the progressing cancer made it difficult for her to be up and about. She called her daughter and had her come pick her up. Her daughter set her up in a room in the daughter’s house with her bed facing the window so she could look across the farm to her own house where she had loved her husband and raised her children, cooked and gardened, wept and sang.
In another couple of days she required more care than the daughter could offer so they hired a home care nurse. As I visited every one of her last few days, her attitude remained so positive. She was ready. She had led a life that was full of love, full of God, full of blessings. She had known her share of pain and understood that the physical suffering of these last few days of cancer was just another stepping stone in life. She waited eagerly for God to call her home. I was not with her when she passed away. She didn’t need me. She had everything she needed. She had a relationship with God that was almost a century in the making. She had her only surviving child keeping her company. She had the view of her farm and memories of all that had grown on that property: love, children, chickens, squash…
Her end, when it came, was expected. She knew that she would die any day. Two weeks before, she had no idea she was sick, though. Her life changed that quickly. This woman for me is a shining star because she shows what it is like to be ready. She didn’t have to make any last-minute preparations. All was well with her soul. She had loved and lived. The time came for her next step. She welcomed that next step. Once I heard someone say that good things take time, but great things happen all at once. Are you ready for a great thing to drop into your life? Jesus admonishes us to be ready. You never know when it is coming.