By Dinah Dalder
How could hope come from one of the saddest times of my life? I have tears in my eyes as I recount details of our Christmas from almost 40 years ago. The story begins with the phone waking us up on December 21 with my mother calmly telling us that dad had collapsed at home and died in the night. She had waited until morning to call since she knew we would have a long drive home and we needed to get a good night’s sleep! What? How could this have happened? Dad was only 59 years old and he wasn’t sick! Who was with my mom who had been up all night as dad was rushed to the hospital and died in surgery?
Dad’s funeral was on Christmas Eve day. As the funeral procession proceeded down busy Woodward Avenue in Detroit on a bitterly cold day, I looked out the car window at all of the people at bus stops and bustling about. I saw a lot of shocked, horrified faces when people along the streets noticed the hearse and procession. Were they feeling sorry for us? Or, were they upset that we interrupted their Christmas joy? Maybe they were annoyed because the funeral procession was slowing down the bus schedule or their timeline for Christmas errands.
Whatever the reason for their dismay, their facial expressions added to my grief. Burying my dad was not what our family ever expected to do on Christmas Eve.
The hope from this story comes from the people at the church we attended near home. My family never missed going to church, even when we were grieving a few days after dad died. During the funeral visitation, a family came from church to support us, “We don’t know you but we saw how sad you were at church and we wanted to come and tell you we care.” We were in awe - a family taking time to visit people they don’t know at a funeral home right before Christmas! Another family from church stopped by our house on Christmas day with an appetizer shaped like a Christmas tree! They were making the dish for a family gathering but thought we would need something special, so they made a second one for us. I have since made that same appetizer for many Christmas gatherings and people always seem to get joy from having a Christmas tree made out of fresh vegetables on the table! It also reminds me of the kindness people brought to our little family when we needed it so badly.
Over the years, I have appreciated how much those people gave our family hope at Christmas. They saw us
grieving and they did some simple things that I continue to remember. Although times have changed, people need our comfort more than ever. We never know when someone will cross our path who needs some care. I pray that I am not too distracted or too busy at Christmas - I don’t want to miss an opportunity to be able to give hope to someone in need!
Trinity Advent Devotional
Welcome to Advent, 2020, a season like no other. These readings, throughout the Advent season, have all been written by staff and members of Trinity. We hope you’ll enjoy the opportunity to get to know one another better through these prayers, devotions and stories. Even in this challenging time, we celebrate this opportunity to grow in love and service through our relationships with God and with one another.