Tuesday, December 02, 2014

First to Arrive . . . At Last! (Peter Black)

Warm thoughts for you at Christmas and a special way to say, may the festive season bring much happiness your way. That was the greeting on the front of a handcrafted card from Scotland—one amongst the first batch of cards to arrive this season.
It was decorated with a golden fabric bow, and the greeting was framed with tastefully applied glitter. Green holly leaves and floral shapes, set against a white background with a dash of red, made for an understated, yet attractive, effect. The interior bore our friends’ personal greeting to us.

This card is special not only because it was hand-crafted, but for several other reasons. First, because of our relationship with the couple who sent it. This was the forty-first Christmas card to come from them since our arrival in Canada, in 1974. The couple, now in their eighties, were our pastors during our time in Aberdeen, Scotland. Alwyne and his wife Mima demonstrated what it was to follow Jesus and live out the life He calls us to live. Alwyne mentored me in pastoral service, even before I knew I would become a pastor!

They had a sizable family of their own, yet were like grandparents to ours. Mima often took care of our boys for a few hours so we could attend to some other matters, and there was always room around the table for one or two—or umpteen—more folks. Servanthood, faith and humility marked their lives.
My poor photography doesn't do justice
The card is also special because it represents a victory for Mima. To explain: When we visited with the couple in 2012 she commented on how May’s card to them from us always arrived at their house first. She said, “One o’ these Christmases I’m going to beat May and get our card over to you in Canada, first.”
Well this was the year. Ours was probably winging over the Atlantic towards the UK, when their card landed in our mailbox. Mima had finally done it – after forty years, she was first!
Here’s an excerpt from the message: “. . . We are both OK. Getting old and a few pains, but thank God we are still able to do the work we have been given to do. Love to the family. . . . From Alwyne and Mima. God bless in 2015.”
That card is particularly special because it arrived here the day before her funeral / memorial service. Little did she know when she wrote and mailed the card that days later she would reach her eternal home before the card reached our earthly one. It’ll be cherished on account of the timing and circumstances surrounding its arrival. As in the case of the previous forty cards Mima sent, this one was sent with warmth and love.
Do you have a Christmas greeting story that holds special meaning for you? Whenever you recall the people and circumstances associated with it, warm longings for them and that special time spring to life deep in your heart?
In our Northern clime, winter’s cold and shorter days lend to the Advent-Christmas season a capacity for wistful longing and quiet reflection. We can ponder about people dear to us—of those still living who reside far away—and stir cherished memories of others who have passed away.
A half-hour withdrawn from things competing for our attention can help us find that quiet space in our thoughts and hearts. Our dear friend Mima’s ‘victory,’ along with her home-call and final Christmas card to May and me, has offered another reason to do just that.
If you care to further the thought:

This reminds me of that first Christmas night—or, perhaps it was in the wee small hours of the
Credit: Print Shop
morning. Once the visiting Bethlehem shepherds left the humble place where the Christ Child lay and their excited chatter and exuberant praises to God faded into the darkness, Mary, the young virgin mother, found that quiet space.

“. . . Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 NIV).”
The verbal message the angel Gabriel delivered to her nine months before (Luke 1:26-38) was now fulfilled. Father God's divinely conceived and fashioned message—the Living Eternal Word, the Message “made flesh” (John 1:1-3)had been delivered, and lay in a manger.
The conclusion of the pregnancy was not so much an end, but a beginning!
Peter's second book is a compilation of inspirational articles from his weekly column—on a variety of themes. These are interspersed with brief expressions intended to encourage.
ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3
Angel Hope Publishing



Rose McCormick Brandon said...

What a tribute to this couple who were such an important part of your life. I learned a little more about you and your history in ministry from this story . . . a heartfelt piece, Peter

Peter Black said...

Thank you Rose. The couple's imprint is still on us. "They will shine as the stars of the morning . . ." as the hymnwriter wrote (inspired, I've no doubt, by the words of Daniel 12:3). ~~+~~

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