By Doug Pilsworth
January 26, 1994. 3:49 am. A cry sounded from within the wilderness of medical apparatus. A beautiful sound to my ear. My daughter Megan was born. She had been five years in the making and now she was here! Elation and pure joy filled my heart and soul. She was beautiful. She was also a month early which her mother blamed on me because I am always early for things.
As they wheeled Megan down to the Neo-Natal Unit with me in tow, I do not think that my feet ever touched the ground. The stark, business-like halls of the hospital were now festooned with splashes of love everywhere. I spent the next hour or so just staring at her through the transparent sides of her incubator and reaching in and touching her, ever so gently. Now, I knew what everyone else, who had children, felt and knew. And suddenly my mind went to Scripture and I remembered the night, we all will soon celebrate, when another birth took place that changed the lives of a couple and ultimately the whole world.
We will all recapture that sense of love when we gather in church on Christmas Eve. Hopefully, the first present opened will be the Bible and the story of Jesus’ birth. Love came down on Christmas morn and a revolution of the heart began. This love affected both the poor and rich alike. Even the heavens sang about this birth. A new world was born that night. What joy! What love to be shared!
He was 13 and stood six-foot-three. His mom was a single mom who worked hard for her little family. The church was throwing out an old Christmas tree. I put it into a box and climbed the three flights of stairs and banged on their apartment door. The son came to the door announcing that his mom wasn’t home. Seeing it was me, he welcomed me in and I dropped the box on the floor, its folded top flinging open to reveal the boughs of the tree. “It’s your tree!” I said. He stood there for a moment and broke into tears. I hugged him, just as his mom came through the door. She looked at the box and came to join in the group hug. This was their first-ever Christmas tree. Love filled that apartment. Fill someone else’s day with love. Show them Christ’s love.
December 21. We were preparing for Christmas Day and were decorating the house with boughs and ornaments. Christmas music was playing and we were all singing and decorating. The phone rang – I answered. It was my brother from Halifax. “Hi Graham! Merry Christmas!” Then things went quiet and I fell down on the couch. He told me that our mom had died. I sobbed like a baby. My heart broke. That Christmas was a different kind of Christmas for us. The Pictou County Council of Churches always held a Longest Night Service or Blue Christmas. I had never been to one, but found myself going to it. I found friends there who were like me. I was not alone. Neighbours surrounded me and I felt the love of God embrace me.
Love is key. There are many sides of love and we, who are able, need to address all of them. I am thankful to have led the Longest Night Service for the last number of years for others, like me. I am grateful that this year, the service will be at St. Paul United in Westville led by Rev. Dr. Mary Taylor, beginning at 7 pm. on Dec. 21.
Whether you are suffering a loss or celebrating new birth, come and share your love of Christ, born to all of us on Christmas Day, at St. Paul. If you cannot, then call around because other Churches are offering this special gift of love for all peoples.
Love is the most precious and life-changing gift of God and is to be shared by the people of God to a crying and desperate world. Reach out and share a hug with someone whose soul is crying out for love. You are God’s gift of love to the world. Share it as God shared his gift with everyone.
Merry Christmas and may God bless you all.
Doug Pilsworth is a retired United Church minister.