Unexpected at Christmas

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

25 Responses to Unexpected at Christmas

  1. Bob Whitley says:

    Prayers for you Jeff ! Prayers also for Theresa, & the boys! We are thinking of you all at this time! May God keep you all in His loving arms as things go forward! God Bless
    Bib & Fern Whitley

  2. Sandy Schlepphorst says:

    I love your Christmas surprise analogy Jeff. I can imagine the great care and thought you put into those messages for the children. Sending love and prayers as you face these health challenges.

  3. Connie says:

    Your Christmas message was right on the mark.
    I have been keeping up with your progress in Houston. I have you in my prayers every day. I am sure God still has lots of things for you to do.
    Love, prayers and positive thoughts are all being sent your way.

  4. Jakay Steckler says:

    Dear Jeff, It saddened me when your news was shared on our Central Baptist prayer chain. I have been praying for a good outcome for you. A miracle under the control of Our Savior. You have served Him in so many ways. We know we are not rewarded by what we do but how we believe in Jesus Christ. Our Triune God. I will continue to pray for you, your family and friends. As well, all your medical team and all those that are involved in this journey in any way. May The Lord bless you and keep you in His constant and perfect care. Praising God for your amazing results!!!
    Christian love and prayers, Jakay Steckler.

  5. Diana Faust says:

    Very moving message! We always try to be in control, don’t we? You and your family and your doctors continue to be in my prayers❤️ Faith, trust, strength and perseverance-you have all those.

  6. Linda S says:

    I heard your heartfelt message on Christmas Sunday. My heart ached for you as we new something profound had happened in your life..You are such an inspiration for so many and I know God still has work for you to do. Be strong and know I and many others are praying for your healing

  7. Melinda Madison says:

    Jeff prayers to you and your family! You have done so much so many. Now it’s time for us to do what we can for your healing! If I can do anything don’t hesitate to ask!

  8. Steven says:

    So terribly sorry to hear your not feeling well. I am sending thoughts and prayers to you and your family. God bless you Jeff, and keep you cradled in his arms. Stay strong my friend.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  9. Donna Vogel says:

    Jeff May Our Blessed Savoir grace u and your family with His amazing love peace and healing as u travel down this journey. You will all be in our thoughts and prayers . Jim and Donna Vogel

  10. Dick & Pat Wentura says:

    Dear Jeff and Theresa, just a line to tell you our prayers, thoughts, and hopes are with you at this time. As ever, Dick & Pat Wentura

  11. Diana Brown says:

    Jeff, so sorry to hear what has happened. Your message, I am sure, will touch many. Our prayers for a full and complete recovery for both you and your family are with you. D

  12. Kathy & John says:

    Jeff we are keeping you in our hearts and will be with you as you have your surgery. You have been there for so many, and we are all with you and your family now.

  13. Kathy Williams & Jim Ostermueller says:

    Jeff,
    Jim & I send prayers for this journey you and your family are on. May the Good Lord bless you with the strength needed to encounter the many challenges. God bless you!

  14. Sue says:

    Jeff, you are a comforting and caring person. I pray that we whom you have helped can now help you and your family with prayers and caring.

  15. Mary Beth Mcgee says:

    Jeff, I have kept you and Theresa in my prayers every morning since Bob told me about your diagnosis in December. So many people are showering you with prayers. May God give you strength, healing, and comfort as you deal with this unexpected illness. Mary Beth

  16. Peg Holzgrafe says:

    Your message rings loud and clear! We are so used to being in charge …in command. Thank you for your message, Jeff. This is very relative to all of us. Praying for God’s blessings on you, his faithful servant. You are an inspiration! ❤️🙏🏻

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