I have delivered Children’s messages at my church for over 30 years. I have tried to use every day, simple ideas that children can understand to introduce them to concepts to increase their faith.
This year I had planned a message for our Christmas Eve service, a service that routinely is the most attended by young children, so I really wanted it to be a good one. (Full disclosure- I also like something with an idea that the adults can take home.)
The gist of my message was my Christmas gifts from 1984. If you have read any of my previous funeral home blogs, many revolve around my love of rock and roll music. This story fits right in there.
I attended Kenyon College in Ohio with a large number of East Coast fraternity brothers who introduced me to some great ‘Eastern’ bands. Theresa and I had heard Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling’ (our song) long before anyone in Quincy ever did. Likewise I enjoyed groups like J. Geils Band and Aerosmith before they were mainstream.
Back to 1984…Theresa and I were relatively newly married with two small children who were the focus of our Christmas purchases. We downsized our own gifting. I asked for the Aerosmith album ‘Get Your Wings’ which was released in 1974. Theresa, not nearly as interested in music as I and perhaps a bit more focused on Will and Nick, bought Air Supply’s ‘Greatest Hits’. Surprise! The styles of music is about as far apart as can be. I heard an MTV VJ recently refer to Air Supply as the Hallmark Card band. Early Aerosmith on the other hand was very edgy stuff.
The point of the story was that sometimes things are unexpected, especially around Christmas. Just imagine that first Christmas over 2000 years ago. The King of Kings is coming! How spectacular is that going to be?!What the world instead received was a baby born in a stable. The people were expecting a strong king to free them from Roman oppression. What they got was a spiritual leader who taught them (and us) to love our neighbors, serve others, and trust in Him to take care of things. That’s more than just a little unexpected don’t you think?
The other point I finished with is that unexpected is not necessarily bad. I actually began to enjoy my Air Supply album, just like we now know that the Savior we got that first Christmas was and is much better than the one people wanted or expected.
This Christmas also had an unexpected twist for me personally. I was diagnosed on the evening of December 23 with numerous brain lesions. (I decided to postpone my message from the Christmas Eve to Sunday morning the 26th since I didn’t leave the hospital until late afternoon on Christmas Eve.) I am currently awaiting the first of several neurosurgeries to address them. Unlike Air Supply and the baby Jesus, I am struggling to find the up side to this unexpected Christmas twist. Certainly the food scene I have discovered in Houston is a pleasant, unexpected surprise. Maybe my desire to control my life needs to be subjugated more to what my Savior has in store for me. My fervent hope is that, just like with Air Supply and baby Jesus, there is a nice upside for me to enjoy when the surprise of this year’s unexpected Christmas surprise plays out.
For updates on Jeff’s health, surgery, radiation and progress, check out Caring Bridge: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/spear