Jim and Betty attended with us, to help Cooper, Katie and I walk in the Advent bells, read the Call to Service and light the Advent candles.
Some thoughts from the morning:
1. It is clear where Uncle Jim and Steve and then Cooper and Katie received their musical talents. I sat between Jim and Betty, and I sang softly because (a) I'm not very good and (b) I wanted to listen to their voices.
2. It's remarkable to watch my 11-year-old son stand behind a lectern and lead our congregation. Not so long ago, he was a tiny 3-month-old, cradled in my arms as he was baptized on the same altar.
3. Katie's radiant joy during worship warms my heart.
4. When Pastor Cassie spoke the Bidding Prayer and prayed for those who have moved to distant shores, I strongly felt Steve's presence.
5. I've yet to fully process the events in Newtown, Ct., on Friday. I'm still numb. When our friend Sharon was reading from Isaiah, describing peace that will reign -- wolf with the lamb, calf with the lion -- she paused to compose herself. Her heart was heavy with the unspeakable violence and aftermath. When her voice broke, my tears started.
6. When Sharon asked us to pray for our brothers and sisters in Connecticut, I imagined all those families without their 5- and 6-year-olds this weekend. Then I thought of Steve, who never saw his own Katie go to kindergarten. And then I decided that, though I have no idea how heaven works, if Steve has his way this weekend, he is loving on those heavenly kindergarteners.
7. As if emotions weren't heavy enough, the choir sang "Creation Will Be At Peace," one of Steve's favorite anthems and a song from his beautiful service. So, so many tears, for Steve and for those kindergarteners and their families and all who love them. I was thankful to be surrounded by people who love me, including Betty, who held my hand.
8. Peace. I am praying desperately for peace for a world that needs it desperately.
"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased!"