Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I was tickled when a dear church friend, Keith Duke emailed this Christmas message from Father Vince. And I just can't blog it without appropriate commentary when it's by somebody who is really special to me.
I received Father Vince's Christmas message when memories of Christmases past are in my thoughts and on my sleeve as well.
About a year after my mom passed away and about a year before my dad passed on, I was in Punta Gorda visiting my brother, sister-in-law and my dad. I had invited my dad to go to church with me rather than the Salvation Army in Port Charlotte wherethey transferred to when they moved from St. Petersburg to Punta Gorda. Dad had never been in an Episcopal Church before. And my dad's Alzheimer's was rearing it's ugly head since my mom died. Anyway, to make a long story short the prayer bench fell down on my dad's foot and he let out a loud yelp, but let me know he was going to be okay.
Going out of the church, dad shook Father Vince's hand and told him that the sermon was very good.
In his kind and and jovial way, Father Vince thanked him. The lady ass't rector had preached the sermon that Sunday morning.
My dad constantly practiced the love Father Vince talks about in his Christmas message. Gordon Sr also had a great sense of humor and managed to smile and tell funny stories until the moment he died in the hospital in Port Charlotte in February of 1999. I was holding one of his hands, my sister the other as we kept saying to dad, "One more breath, just take another one." He took two more deep breaths, blew them out like a whistle and died with a smile on his face. My dad touched the lives of thousands of people both pre and post Alzheimer's diagnosis.
I hope I can handle my Alzheimers as it progresses with the grace and humor of my dad.
Larry and me went over to Punta Gorda last summer for the 4th of July to visit family and of course we made a point to get to the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was good to see Father Vince again and sit and visit for a few minutes after the service.
I encourage any reader who visits southwest Florida to consider visiting one of the most beautiful small towns in America and attend services at Church of the Good Shepherd while visiting.
And now, a word from Father Vince:
Let's give the greatest gift this Christmas season: the gift of love.
A BLESSED AND JOYOUS CHRISTMAS ..Vince & Kathleen
I CORINTHIANS 13 A CHRISTMAS VERSION
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family,
it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way,
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but
giving the gift of love will endure.
Merry Christmas and lots of love to you and yours!