Today is my birthday. Each year, I give thanks for one more moment, one more second here on this planet. So, by all accounts, I consider myself a blessed man. Today I am thankful for:
- My wife who continues to love me with a fierce loyalty that knows no ending or beginning.
- My sons who are grateful that I happen to be their father.
- A career that is filled with many affirmations and challenges.
- A life path that is definitely not what I would expect, but for which I am grateful.
- People that I call friends that actually know me and love me in spite of myself.
- A chance to work hard with a goal of achieving a hard earned Doctorate. I set the educational standard for my family.
- Incredible opportunities to share my passion for making music.
- The gift of having amazing teachers in my life who illuminate my spirit with wisdom.
- Hope that continues to motivate me to be the best that I can be.
- Strength for overcoming every obstacle that stands in my path. Here’s to being made whole.
We never know how many years are given to us while we live on this planet. Every blessed day is a chance to make things right; to reach beyond our own understanding. Time is the gift of heaven. Life is passionate, and pain is temporary. We honor each other by the amount of time that we give to one another.
I am grateful for the community around me. It is with these beautiful people that I understand what it is like to be the person that I am created to be. Praise be to God for you, for friends, for community. It is within the recesses of our deepest souls that Christ dwells within us, giving us strength for the journey that lies ahead. Let us travel together, seeking power from the One who strengthens us.
When I stand at the altar to prepare for Communion, there is an innate sense of responsibility that flows through me. I think long and hard about every word that comes out my mouth, as I consecrate the elements, inviting the Holy Spirit to speak into the lives of the congregation. Each member is asking, pleading, requesting God to speak into their lives.
Everyone in the room comes seeking to be made whole, to take a break from a life filled with chaos. And so, with all of these things in mind, they come to the table. And there standing beside the table is me; waiting, hoping, praying for everyone that I see. Each person coming with their language, their way of expressing the deep needs of hearts yearning for wholeness.
As I watch the feast at the banquet, I hope everyone stops long enough to realize the moment of truth that Christ Himself calls to each of them to find that for which they are looking. May the music of redemption fill their ears as heavenly bells ring out that everyone is loved and desired by our amazing God. The reality of Holy love is the hope of our faith; it is the headwaters of that which we believe.
Heavenly truth reveals to us that we are never alone, that God’s presence is with us always. We continue to struggle in a world that challenge us with each new day, the foundation of hope is always the underlying part of the victory that we share in Christ. Love never leaves us. Love never shames us. Love is simply and continuously present. We only turn and embrace the amazing gift of grace.
Today, I am grateful for the gift of God’s grace as revealed in the invitation to a banquet like none other. I stand there and participate in the meal, confronting the truth that I am a beloved child of the Most-High God. This reality is at times incomprehensible and overwhelming. Such grace is offered to someone like me. How amazing!
I constantly wonder about the journey that I have taken concerning my life. Should I have stayed in the music business a little longer? How far would I have gone if I tried harder? Am I on the right path for me? These are the questions that whirl in my head on a consistent basis.
Of course, the answers are muddled. I mean, do we really know that one road would have brought more joy, or one choice would have brought a deeper sense of being? Who knows? The joys, hopes, and dreams that are present are a result of the choices that we did make, the road that we choose to travel each and every day.
As I search for the answers to the questions that I bring to the table, I am confident that my journey was led and directed by the amazing God of All. I am here in this moment as a result of following the One, who guides me and shows me the path on which I am called to walk and serve. Other dreams are reserved for another life, but not my life. The hopes and joys that are available to me now are a result of the gentle guidance of the Divine, loving me through the difficult way and into the waters of comfort.
And as for the joy meter in my life today, this day as a result of the choices that I did make. I am happy to say that I have a loving wife, who continues to walk this path with me. Two amazing men who call me their father. A congregation that every week, teaches me about the greatness of God, and who holy love transforms us all. All of these blessings are as a result of listening to the presence of the Most-High God, eagerly being transformed into the person that the Holy One created.
Today, I am grateful for my path, and grateful for the many people that surround me, encouraging me to become better, become holier, become more passionate. Praise be to the One, who gives us the victory in Christ, His son. My hope is that we take the journey to which we are called. I hope that we walk boldly, holy, and passionately. I hope that as we journey, we are surrounded by the light of Christ.
Last night my sixteen year old son sang in his school choir’s holiday concert. I will just say that the program was a very ambitious collection of time honored works as well as new music. One could get carried away with over analyzing the program. I know I have to shut down my musical snobbery button and simply listen to the wonderful students excited about their own acts of music making. I just thought to myself, “Thank God this is good literature and I wasn’t trapped listening to a concert of Christmas music from the 50’s.”
What moved me so much was the absolute joy I saw in my son’s eyes as he had a place on the stage. His very being oozes music. I was watching him at the end of a number and he turned to a few other boys in the choir and they just looked at one another and laughed. My son could not have been in a moment that was more perfect for him than in that moment. I was thrilled for my “big ole stinky boy.”
I was reminded that, as a pastor, father, husband, etc., I can get so caught up in the business of the season that I forget to see the small expressions of joy around me. I could miss my youngest son sitting next to me rocking out to some of his favorite music. I could have missed my oldest son expressing his passion for being a part of a wonderful young group of musicians.
I hope that I never get so complacent and busy that I can’t experience and see the love which surrounds me as a pastor, husband, father, and friend. I hope that I never lose sight of the joy that is an integral part of the church as those of us who are in the choir prepare for the big Christmas Cantata. May we always find a brief moment of love as it surrounds us when we open a Christmas card. It lets me know that I am connected to something much bigger than which I am on my own.
Let us keep the joy of the season by finding the love in everything that we do. We will discover the basis of our hope and absolute dependence on God and how the Sacred is expressed in the care of others. May you find the joy in everything that you do in this Christmas season. God’s choicest blessings work through you and around you.
And as for that dad whose heart leapt for joy? There is no Christmas present greater than seeing your family happy. There is no store that can purchase it. There is no place that can manufacture it. I am fortunate to have been in a place to look and simply catch a glimpse of it. May my son have many more concerts that cause him to rear back and laugh for joy.