Notes from Jan

Living Backwards

December 24, 2015

Maggie’s singing, “Rise Up Shepherds and Follow” in the pageant on Christmas Eve. She’s the eight year old Grand who challenges me to plan my funeral by nudging me to choose what I’d like sung.  The more we talk about the service, the more it feels like we’re planning a going away party.  First of all, she’s the one who raises the subject, since she plans on singing.  Second, Maggie hopes I’ll choose something from Les Miz or Oliver over something from a hymnal, since musicals are in her repertoire. Third, she doesn’t want to rush me but worries that her cousin, Luke, will grow too old to want to sing with her.  In other words…but then those of you who are regular readers already know this.

Talking about your own funeral isn’t a bad way to live.  It’s a little like living backwards. Like living with the end in mind. Not as dark as it sounds.  Think Christmas.  The Heart of Christmas.  We sing, “Away in a Manger” but God, with the end in mind, sees  A Way in a manger and does something simply unbelievable, yet true.  God shows up, not with powerful fists clenched in fury, ready to do battle  but with ones freshly birthed,  baby-sized hands  unable to wrap around more than a finger, perhaps the calloused, dirty finger of an outcast, a sheep herder.

Love finds a way in a manger.

Why didn’t God hold his nose and flee the stench of the stable to make a grand entrance in a grander place?  Why a one star hovel over a 5 star hotel?  I find myself asking over and again, “God, what were you thinking?”  And in the stillness of Advent I sense God’s Heart, “It’s never been about 5 stars but 5 letters.”






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  • Reply Dale Lefever December 24, 2015 at 2:46 am

    I always remember your “living in the dash” sharing. Last week we studied the Alpha and the Omega. Knowing the beginning and the ending makes living in the middle worthwhile. Some philosopher once said that “life only can be understood looking backwards, but must be lived forward.” There is risk, but great reward as well by knowing the ending.

    Christmas blessings, Dale

  • Reply Wendy Lane December 27, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    A way. Grace. Love these thoughts.

    I don’t like thinking about planning a funeral! But I do have a funny story about my dad planning his. He had severe Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Sometimes he was “there” and sometimes he was not. One morning when my mom got to his room in the nursing area he told her some things he wanted to happen at his funeral. He wanted my oldest brother to play the piano, my second oldest brother to give the homily, and my younger brother to play his trumpet. These were all very appropriate. And then he went on to say he wanted his four daughters to be the bridesmaids! Haha!

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