Christmas and God's Timing
One of my aunts on my Dad’s side, Rev. Christine Moore, died last week. She had a
short bout with cancer and was responding well to treatment, but then took a turn for the
worse and died rather suddenly. She was an African Methodist Episcopal pastor who
had served faithfully for 30 some years after leaving a career in education. Upon her
retirement from the AME church, she began worshipping and helping in ministry at
Emory Fellowship, a United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. The celebration of
her life was held at Emory yesterday.
Emory now worships in a recently renovated space that was part of a multi-million dollar
development project. The worship and church meeting space is now surrounded by 99
units of affordable housing. The housing is part of The Emory Beacon Center, the mission and ministry arm of the church. The sanctuary is literally in the center of the ministry and community outreach of the church. This is the place where my aunt chose to worship and serve in her retirement.
Dr. Joe Daniels, the lead pastor, shared yesterday that the first and, to this point, only
Christmas message ever preached in their new sanctuary had been preached by my
aunt. He thought it only fitting that we celebrate her life this week as the church
prepares for Christmas Sunday service. He marveled at God’s timing.
As he spoke I reflected on God’s timing. I don’t think that I am the only believer who
has ever questioned God’s timing, as I often do. Why would God allow someone to die
the week before Christmas? Well, perhaps because my aunt’s Service of Celebration
would then, in essence, be the last sermon she preached and it would happen the week
of Christmas. Could she be saying, “God is with us and now I am with God”? How is
that for timing?
After the service as I was making the long trek home from Washington to Pittsburgh, the
SiriusXM Radio Symphony Channel played The Messiah in its entirety which includes
Part 1, the birth of Christ, Part 2, the death of Christ, and Part 3 the resurrection of
Christ. In two and a half hours I traveled on I70 and through the birth, death, and
resurrection of Jesus. How is that for timing?
I cannot ever remember having listened to the entire oratorio at one time before. Two-
and-a-half to three hours is a long time to sit. But hearing the whole work in one
sitting caused me to realize that Part 1, the prophesy and annunciation of the birth of
Jesus is the longest section of The Messiah. Handel must have recognized on some
level that there is something critically important in lingering in the hope and joy there is
in the promise of Immanuel. How is that for timing?
Perhaps one of the blessings of this season is God’s timing. The timing of the
annunciation of a promise soon to be fulfilled, the timing of the birth of a baby, the timing
of the God’s incarnation into a broken world, the timing of our hearts being touched by a
This Christmas season I am going to challenge myself to be more attentive to God’s
timing. I am going to expect that there is a blessing in the timing of a phone call, a ring
at the door bell, a smile or wave hello, even an opening of a parking space.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon
His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the
Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
May you be blessed by God’s timing this Christmas!