These kinds of pictures have always intrigued me.  They are a stylized image of a nostalgic past that probably never really existed and they still have a hypnotic effect on me.  The streets of Leadville CO looked a lot like this when I was boy delivering papers.  It was an adventure because the paper was always late and delivering them in a snow storm after the sun went down was fun and exhausting at the same time.  That strange glow that comes from light sources when the snow is of a particular type and the temperature is just right is quite beautiful.  Anyway these are the kinds of pictures that are to bring the nostalgia out and produce the feeling of peace and joy and longing for the past.

So songs have been written that this is the most wonderful time of the year and I tend to agree with that. Other folks will tell you that it is not the most wonderful time for many people.  More people are depressed and sad this time of the year than any other.  The stress and the frustration that comes with wanting a life, a season, and a celebration, that looks like the picture or the latest card that came in the mail is sometimes overwhelming.

This last couple of weeks have been like that.  The stress comes from deaths and illness and unexpected disasters that enter a time when all should be calm and bright.  The last few days have been a nightmare of sorts that were made bearable by folks who go out of their way to help and assist and make a straight path.

There is a story of two preachers flying into an airport that is fogged in.  One is coming from several states away to officiate at a funeral for a friend who died unexpectedly.  Arrangements had to be made hurriedly and a Pastor and his staff in Grand Forks worked hard to make arrangements for the funeral to be held at their church.  The Pastor flying in is surprised when the landing at Grand Forks is aborted and his plane is diverted to Brainerd MN.  He is allowed to deplane and get his luggage.  Now the questions is how to get to Grand Forks?  He calls the Minnesota North District President who comes and picks him up and gives him dinner and a car so he can get to the funeral on time.

The second Pastor is flying back for confirmation classes and the children’s Christmas program and a funeral the next day.  He has the same experience.  Landing in Grand Forks is aborted and the plane flies to Bismarck ND.  He is not allowed to get off the plane which  refuels and goes back to Grand Forks and tries again.  The second time the landing is aborted and that is a charm and the plane goes back to Minneapolis.  The Pastor doesn’t wait to get his luggage.  The pastor cannot make it to the classes or the program.  The children’s program planner is kind and concerned and reschedules.  The pastor rents a car from some wonderful helpful people at Hertz and drives home and arrives at 2am in an ice storm.  The funeral goes on in a timely fashion.  The next day that pastor had another funeral and everything was taken care of by others so that all went well.  His luggage even arrives the next day in Grand Forks without too much hassle.

All those folks that helped in whatever way they could make this the most wonderful time of the year.  They exhibit mercy and the love of God in tangible ways.  The two pastors that wondered around the winter sky in circles want to thank them.  To Pastor Fenske, and the staff and members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Forks; to Minnesota North President Fondow and his wife; to the staff at the Hertz car rental in Minneapolis, especially Ansi at the counter; to Cindy Johnson the Christmas Program director whose dedication to Christmas programs is historic and a little scary; thank you for all of your kindness understanding and work to make things work.  To grand parents who might miss the rescheduled Christmas program, apologies.  To those who lost loved ones at this time of the year, the two Pastors offer their continued prayers and condolences.  Remember that all that pastor’s have to give is the proclamation of Christ and His mercy which is the reason this is the most wonderful time of the year.