Advent Day 1 – Sunday, November 26

Whenever Advent rolls around, I feel a sense of sadness. Not all the time, and definitely not because of the message of Advent, but because it stirs memories. And I know I’m not alone.

This season, which leads to the magnificent story of Christmas and the birth of our Savior, also magnifies memories of loved ones lost during this time of year.

One December the mid-1980s, Karen and I got a phone call that shook us to the core. My brother’s wife, Carol, had been Christmas shopping the day before in their south-central Washington state town. The next day, totally out of the blue, she had died of a brain aneurysm. Carol was only in her early 50s.

We had the task of breaking this awful news to my parents, who lived in Wagner. This was something that had to be done in person, and I will never forget the shock on their faces. You don’t expect a healthy, fun-loving woman to be here one day and gone the next with no warning.

We flew west for the funeral, and it was one of the saddest I’ve ever attended. It was right before Christmas, and ever since, the time leading up to the holiday makes me miss Carol.

Other family members have passed on late in the year since that time, and, combined, their memories and the circumstances are magnified in my mind.

How can we cope? The lyrics of the contemporary Christian song “Magnify” by We Are Messengers hit home. It really helps to focus more on Jesus and magnify his holy name!

I’ve been trying to make sense of the sorrow that I feel  
Holding on for life to the only thing that’s real  
I’ve only scratched the surface, I’ve barely had a taste  
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change  
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste  
I don’t need to see everything, just more of you

Oh God, be greater, than the worries in my life  
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind  
Be louder, let your Glory come alive  
Be magnified

Take it all, take it all away  
Magnify no other name  
Open up, open up my eyes  
To you, to you

Denny Gale

“Magnify,” Darren Mulligan, Casey Brown, and Jonathan Smith; © 2015 Dayspring Music, LLC (BMI)