Last night at the first of our two Christmas Eve services I found myself sitting alone. Phillip was playing organ, Evan was acolyting, and my other two children were planning to come to the later service. When it came time to light the candles at the end of the service, I walked to the other end of the pew I was sitting in. There was an older couple there, one I have seen many times but never formally met. As I approached them to light my candle from theirs, the woman smiled, reached out her arms to hug me, and said, "I love you." Surprised but touched, I returned the hug and said, "I love you, too!" Then, still holding my arms on either side, this wonderful woman looked me in the eyes and said, "You are so beautiful. I love your outfit." I thanked her for her kindness and started to go back to my place but thought better of it and continued standing next to her as we sang "Silent Night" to close the service. At the end of the service she wished me a merry Christmas and I wished her the same.
It's my first Christmas without my mom, and it's been kind of hard. But it feels like last night God sent me a little surrogate mothering. Not that I should be surprised. It's what church is all about, isn't it?
I pray you have been blessed to gather with the faithful this weekend. If not, don't wait any longer. Go.
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:20