As we draw closer to Christmas, know we are loved

Published 12:49 am Saturday, December 17, 2016

By the Rev. Bob Madsen

First Presbyterian Church

The season of Advent has seemed to race right by me this year. That is probably because I have spent most of the season either flat on my back or in a chair with one foot elevated.

_madsen-mugIn October, I, thinking that I am smarter than everyone whose adventures with ladders have been replayed for all of us to see by means of video sent into America’s Funniest Videos, tried to cut a limb from a tree. In doing so, I discovered that I am no smarter than all those people whose videos we have seen and gasped at or laughed with.

Gravity, it turns out, is real. This was confirmed when I fell, slammed my foot into the ground (the rest of me following shortly afterward), fracturing my heel. If I remember correctly, my fall resulted in what is known as a comminuted fracture of the calcaneous, or, as one surgeon described it, a “Humpty-Dumpty” fracture.

I am grateful to have made it this far in life before undergoing such a trial. A sprained leg as a child, cuts with exacto knives, and the removal of my wisdom teeth have been the most serious events I have bodily undergone. I could have gone a lot longer without undergoing this, but such is life.

The journey from brokenness to healing has been instructive for me. I have been cared for by so many people: my wife, my congregation, health care professionals, colleagues in ministry, other congregations in our community, folks who eat the meals we serve at First Presbyterian, and sister congregations of the PCUSA in other places in South Alabama. I have been prayed for, fed, carted here and there, loaned durable health care equipment to that I have two knee scooters, a pair of crutches, a walker, and various other items.

If I were to tie this experience to scripture, I think I might tie it to the discussion that Jesus has with that fellow who wanted to know just who it was that he was expected to love as a demonstration of his love for God. You know the one. It’s the one that asks who our neighbor might be.

I wasn’t beaten, robbed, and thrown in a ditch. But I have certainly been in need of the care of others. And I have received it. I have learned something about being “neighbored”. Which means I have learned something about being loved.

The other scripture I would tie it to would be anything we identify as having to do with the Christmas story and the birth of Christ, anything related to what we in the church call the incarnation. We talk about Jesus as the incarnation of God’s presence. And when we talk about the church’s ministry, we talk sometimes about ministry being a demonstration of incarnation – the love and care we show one another is a demonstration of the love that we understand God has for us.

So my fall and brokenness, you might say, has shed a little light for me on the state of the human condition.

How good it is to experience love and care from and for one another. I can only imagine what it will be like to know fully (as Paul says) what the love and care of God for all of us is.

As we inch closer toward Christmas, may you know just how much you are loved.