Bidding 2020 a Peaceful Farewell

So how do you say “adieu!” to a year like nothing we have ever experienced?  I’ve thought about it all day as I’ve walked through each hour.   Gracious! Who would have ever imagined such a year?

I do think transitions are important and even holy. Even transitions that are messy, complicated and full of infection – can still be holy when God is with us.  Actually, these may be some of our more important and holy transitions.  God’s people have always had messiness surrounding holy events. Can’t imagine that? Remember where and how Jesus was born? Pretty messy situation– and the angels sang!

I wonder where angels were singing in 2020?

It has definitely been a year packed full of challenge, stress and a lot of disappointments, but there have also been moments that I will forever hold in my heart. Moments that seemed like gifts from God. Moments that are precious; better than gold. Moments that still take my breath away when I recall them. Words never justify when we experience “awe”. Perhaps that is when the angels were singing!

God, thank you for moments of awe this year that reminded us that we are more than simply human. We are yours. And you will often involve us in what you are doing on earth, even taking us by surprise and giving us roles we never anticipated. 
We name these holy moments before you now and we are grateful.

There has been peace where it was least expected. Peace about hard decisions made. Peace in accepting things outside of our control. Peace in the middle of storms that were destroying what we hold dear.  It is the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding”. It doesn’t make sense when we look at what’s happening around us, but God gives it anyway to make sure we know that even in the darkest, most difficult situations, the resurrected Christ has pulled up a chair beside us and will not leave

One event when that peace showed up happened when my sister and I were with our mom at her apartment this summer.  Mom was fragile; recovering from a fall and she was eating her first good meal in several days. The three of us were there.  A few minutes into the meal Mom said, “I don’t feel well”.  We started to prop her feet up and she slumped over; total loss of consciousness. We got her safely from the chair to the floor; my sister called 911. Oreo (my dog) came to her side and pushed himself up against her; not budging. EMS launched and the 911 dispatcher held presence with my sister.  I opened Mom’s airway – no breathing. Positioning her for CPR, our seconds felt like long minutes. She finally took a breath.  And after what felt like way too long, she took another breath. Not awake; not alert, but some breathing. Praise God! 

When EMS arrived, Oreo jumped up to greet them.  First with a warning bark and then quickly with a jumping welcome to the Paramedic. She recognized him:  “is this the dog from the church?”  Mom is breathing and conscious by now, though still very foggy. It turns out that the responding EMS crew is the same crew that had recently stationed in our church for a month.  Oreo works at the church too, so he knew them.  Peace. They placed the EKG leads on mom’s chest and ran a 12-lead.  Oreo positioned himself between mom and the EKG monitor as we prepared for transport. Peace. She’s alive. She’s breathing. God sent someone who knows us. Peace.

God thank you for all the peace you have given in so many difficult situations of 2020.  Thank you for bringing peace into decision making when we had to go against the norm and follow what we can only name as divine wisdom and discernment. Thank you for the peace you brought to every hospital bedside as doctors and nurses were making decisions.
We recognize this peace as your gracious gift in very difficult times. We name those experiences of peace now.

There have been friends, colleagues and family who have navigated through this year with us. We may have been alone physically, but we have mostly not had to travel this road without others.  The blessing of “presence”, however it comes, is immeasurable. There are not always words. There are not always actions that can take away the sting of life’s disappointments and heartaches. But the presence of another who is simply willing to “be with” is a divine provision.

My extended family (Aunts, Uncles and cousins) is very large and we discovered the Marco Polo app in 2020. This place of technology has become a family reunion that comes in daily excerpts as someone in our group of 44 people, shares a story or a greeting from their life.  For the past few months we have shared family stories across 4 generations. A priceless gift of presence that has changed everything.  We’ve visited each other’s homes (through the app). We’ve had a full tour of Uncle Bill’s antique tractor collection and seen the blueberry bushes of our cousin in Oregon. We’ve heard stories of my mom’s generation and we have said prayers of peace and goodbye as mom’s sister, my Aunt Sarah, reached the end of her life on earth. We have lived “life” together across the distances, offering the gift of presence in the way it was possible.

God thank you for the many ways you have provided the presence of friends, family and colleagues when we need it most. We could have had no one, but you created way after way for us to be reminded someone cares. 
We name those people who have given us the gift of their presence in whatever way they could this year.

For the year 2020 – I bid a peaceful farewell! May we take every blessing and let go of every curse. Let our anger remind us of our passion for life and what we hold so dear. Where loneliness lingers, may we remember to reach out for the hand of another. The gift of life and presence is ever more beautiful. May our tears turn to joy in the coming days as we shed the weight of burdens carried. Lord, ready us to take up the wings you have given us for flight!

Thank you, God, for the richness of life. Humble us enough to fly! Amen.

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