Notes from Jan

Where’s an Angel When You Need One?

January 1, 2022

“Christmas is over, Momo!” My youngest Grand shouted in response to my wish to watch a Christmas movie on December 30th, which is the sixth day of Christmas in the Episcopal church. But not to my Grand, Poco. To her anything Christmassy ended December 25th at the stroke of midnight or bedtime, whichever came first.

Not for me. I want Christmas to linger and I need to know somehow God still breaks into life’s horrors or humdrum with angels shouting, singing or whispering, “Fear not. I bring Good News.” Especially on this first day of 2022, when headlines look too familiar and hope needs a booster shot.

So where’s an angel when you need one? Well, this morning Dean Robert reminded the Garden Congregation in Morning prayers, the angels in Luke 2 withdrew to heaven. Mission accomplished. Shepherds headed to Bethlehem, while God’s Glory slept soundly in a feeding trough.

But Dean Robert also reminded us that angels are God’s messengers. Well, if that’s so, then they can come out of nowhere, through unlikely people. That’s not a knock against the ones artists paint nor nativity scenes depict or Christmas carols herald. Rather, encouragement to stop looking for wings and halos. And instead, look around, maybe within.

Take the shepherds, for example. One minute they’re startled by angels, the next they’re it. It? Yes, they’re the angels, God’s messengers, unlikely spreaders of good news. Where? Back to their fields, where they lived and worked. Which is the same for us and any Good News we’ve sung or sensed during this Christmas season. We’re it. It’s our turn to share but not from some lofty perch. We’re angels in disguise. Dispensers of God’s goodness and grace where we live amidst darkness, doubt, and daily dreads.

So on this first day of 2022, think back, remember. Now, thank some angel who lessened your fears or brought good news during this past year. Then, join me, in seeking to listen better and to appreciate the gifts hidden in ordinary days. Perhaps, as Frederick Buechner wrote, “Listen to your life…in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. ”

Moments matter, and so do you.

As for 2022, it’s a 365 page book of blank pages. Imagine what’s possible, all you angels in disguise.

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  • Reply dale January 2, 2022 at 8:04 am

    Thanks Jan for a great perspective for 2022. I am ashamed but I was thinking about a new quarterback as an angel in disguise but you have lifted my perspective and expectations. I am somewhat reluctant to approach my wife and tell her “her little angel is here,” but I am encouraged to receive others as God’s gifts and to see where I could appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to be that person (“angel”) for others. I believe the book was “Angels Unaware.” Blessings and thanks for always appearing when I need you – starting in 1961. 🙂 Brother Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 3, 2022 at 1:38 pm

      Well, you are and have been over decades God’s angels, to me, Jud, our family, as well as to young and old around the world. Often encouragement came through your presence, like at MGH and our send-off from Gordon and Jud’s memorial service. You show up and that alone says, “Fear not. I’ve got good news.”Then there’s your humor. It’s hard for me to think of you without laughing or, at least, smiling. Sometimes a good laugh is the best “fear not” out there. On this third day of January, I’m so grateful God tapped you and Marty to be two of my most treasured angels in disguise. So you can drop the disguise. I know it’s you, my brother.

  • Reply Sue Andringa January 2, 2022 at 10:52 am

    Good morning sweet friend… and happy new year! I love your words and they have helped me to choose a word for this year that can remind me to focus in 2022 in a positive way. Last year my word was “hope”. This year it will be “encourage”. The angels were encouraged to find Jesus in Bethlehem. I want to encourage those around me to find Jesus in the ordinary places where they live and in their circumstances. Here at Maravilla, our retirement community, we lose friends to illness or age on a regular basis. My hope is that they will see Jesus in me and others who love Him and be encouraged to trust Him. I need to remember to be encouraged also to trust Him more in this dark world where there is little hope. For HE is our only Hope.
    God bless you, Jan, as you continually encourage those around you and in your words written here! Much love, Sue ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 3, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      Dear Sue, I’ve no doubt you’re an angel in Maravilla. It’s a special privilege and responsibility to help those experiencing life’s last laps to find peace. One morning as I listened to Dean Robert, he reminded me of something I hadn’t focused on from Psalm 23. As a child I memorized The Lord is My Shepherd in Sunday School and probably received a pin or ribbon or something to reward the accomplishment. As a preacher’s kid, that didn’t happen often. Folks sometimes assumed we just came forth from the womb to be an example, so didn’t need rewards for doing our “duty.” Nonetheless, I recite that prayer-psalm every night, grateful for my Sunday School teacher who encouraged me to learn it, long before I really thought I needed it. So…back to Dean Robert. He reminded us that we “walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death and FEAR NO Evil.” Why? Because “THOU art with me.” Jesus walks with us to the other side. That helps me when I think of Jud’s journey seven years ago and mine to come. Maybe it helps you, too, dear Sue, as you put on your holy disguise and share the Good Shepherd’s ways and words. Love always to you and Bob.

  • Reply Radina Welton January 2, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    YOU are an angel when I need one!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 3, 2022 at 1:55 pm

      What a great New Year’s treat to hear from you, angel Radina! Sending hugs and encouragement to you and your wonderful family…especially the Petrocellis. As to my being an angel to you, that makes me smile a grateful grin.

  • Reply Sharon Davie January 2, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Oh Jan, I love how you reminded me how angels came to tell common folks of God’s great love for us and left it up to us to pass it on. As one of those common folks it encourages me that even as shocking as turning I can do angel work. I need to hear that! Sharon Davie

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 3, 2022 at 2:04 pm

      Yes, you can, dear Sharon. As for you turning 80, you’ve got some kind of angel disguise going on. You make 80 look so good. But better is how you’re choosing to use the rest of your dash. Until breath becomes just air, we have purpose. Sometimes our best angel work is disguised, even to us. Spread your wings, so to speak, and soar in 2022, like never before.

  • Reply Wendy January 2, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Beautiful Jan! Yes, hope does seem to need a booster shot – thank you for encouraging me to help administer that booster to those around me. For I can share what God gives so powerfully and freely! (I need to remind myself of His hope too!!) I love the line in O Holy Night “a shrill of hope the weary world rejoices”. I had that on repeat the last few weeks. 🙂 Love and hugs Jan – you truly are an angel to so many!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg January 3, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    Well dear Wendy, I think auto-correct turned THRILL into SHRILL. But I wonder if sometimes it takes a SHRILL, a high piercing sound to get our attention, pierce the darkness with HOPE. Sometimes despair’s so thick, it needs a jolt. like a booster shot to penetrate our weariness and worry. As for you and Steve, you’re angels, for sure. Sometimes it’s hardest in our families to dispense hope. We see and know too much and it gets in the way of a long view, rooted in God’s timing and doing. Patient hope’s not easy but possible. May JOY be your daily energizer during 2022.

    • Reply Wendy Lane January 3, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      Haha – good ‘ol auto correct! I’ve missed worse mistakes before 🙂 Yes, yes, yes!! To all of your comments. And may JOY be your energizer too dear Jan!

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe January 5, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for encouraging us to be boosters of hope for others, and to listen to our own lives. I love that thought from Buechner that all moments are key moments. As I near 70, I am so very aware that much of the sand in the hourglass has trickled down, and I don’t want the rest to run through my hands unheralded. I so appreciate your writing, Jan. (And I keep meaning to ask, do the grands call you Momo as short for Mormor? My grands call me Mormor as well.)

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 5, 2022 at 8:07 pm

      It started out as Mormor with Lily, our first, but morphed into Momo. So I tell her she named me. Yes, less time ahead, on earth, makes
      moments matter all the more. I try not to look at the hourglass, lest I panic. While I, generally, appreciate and need deadlines, I’m not fond of thinking of DEADlines. Unless I shift to loftier, timeless thoughts of heaven, Jesus, Jud and more. From my perspective, you’re making the most of your time, dear Maggie.

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