“One Degree of Separation” December 23, 2018

“One Degree of Separation”

Micah 5:2-5a

Hebrews 10:5-10

Luke 1:47-55


Well, we are almost there, and this Advent season of hope, peace, joy and love will soon make way for that day that we set aside to worship and to celebrate that moment that God came to us. This wasn’t a casual reminder, this wasn’t a wake up call. No, God came to us in the flesh in the form of a little baby- innocent, precious, and holy. God came to us that we might have hope, that we might know peace, that we might experience joy, and, most important of all, to teach us what it is to love.

On a personal note, I have to say that I have been touched and have found strength and comfort from the prayers and genuine concerns all of you have laid upon my heart. My first thought when I started getting sick in November was, “O, yes. Best Christmas ever!” But, you know what? All sarcasm aside, this may end up being just that: the best Christmas ever.

Last Monday, I was sitting in the exam room of a neurologist here in town. We were having the “You tell me your story” conversation. Margie’s sister, Libby Phillips, was in the room with us and I was grateful for that. Her experience in the medical field and attention to detail was bound to be a great help. Heaven knows that my brain wasn’t tracking very well. She is new to the area, having lived in Rapid City, SD for the past 20 years or so, and was going through that somewhat trying period of being a stranger in a strange land. For example, it was a bit unsettling to run into one of her new dialysis patients at the grocery store. Just a chance encounter, nothing out of the ordinary, but still…it feels weird. This is your new reality. Welcome to McMinnville. I had to laugh when the neurologist asked her if she knew Dr. So and So from the dialysis center and she said, “O yes, I work with him all the time.” “Well, we went to medical school together,” he said, and we all had a good laugh about that. Small world, huh? And then he said something that became the theme for the day – heck, maybe the theme for this, the best Christmas ever. He said, “That’s the thing about McMinnville. You’re going to find out that there is only one degree of separation between yourself and just about anyone you happen to meet in this town.” One degree of separation…we had a good laugh about that for the rest of the day. And wouldn’t you know it but Libby ran into two more clients later that day in the grocery store. One degree of separation: it’s kind of catchy because it’s true. It’s true because no matter how different we may be; no matter how far removed, how totally distant or opposite or estranged, if you look hard enough and ask the right questions, you’re going to find out that save for that one degree of separation, we are all pretty much connected. In the eyes of God we are all family, we all have a lot of history, we go way back. “There’s only one degree of separation between yourself and just about anybody you happen to meet in this town.” One degree…


Like I said, we’re almost there. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, Tuesday is, of course, Christmas Day and then we’re off to the races with Christmastide and the New Year and all that that involves. But for now, I’d just like to stop /// to stop and consider the words of Mary, the mother of Christ: (Lk 1:46) My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. Let’s stop and consider the fear and the terror that had to have been in this young girl’s heart and yet…her first words were “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” How could this be? You’d think she would be a nervous wreck. But no, “for the mighty one has done great things for me – holy is his name.”

This, the 4th and final week of Advent, is the week of love and also of belief. It’s true that we should always save the best for last, and so I would like to leave you with a final thought as we end this period of Advent: believe in love. At all times, in all situations believe with everything you have that this wonderful gift is given to us not because we deserved it, but because God so loved the world that he gives everything for his love of us. We await the coming now of the Christ our Redeemer. And all of the stories and carols and wonderful moments with family and friends, let them be a reflection of God’s undying love, the love that came down at Christmas. Hope, peace, joy, love – these are the cornball notions that we hear about and speak about and sing about at this wonderful time of year. But you know what? These are the greatest gifts we could hope to for. Ever. They are gifts that we can believe in and with that belief, the belief in the love of Christ, we will watch that one degree of separation vanish into thin air.


Amen & Shalom

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