Pondering by Bill Pike


As I have stated many times, I am no Biblical scholar.

But, I do wonder about the stories in the Bible.

Maybe you do too.

One story that I wonder about quite a bit is the Christmas story.

Perhaps you recall that in the book of Luke,  God sends the angel Gabriel to have a conversation with a young lady named Mary. Mary resides in the town of Nazareth, and she is engaged to Joseph.

Gabriel really knows how to start a conversation with a young lady as he states: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Mary is pretty sharp.

We are told this is what she is thinking:  “But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”

Gabriel continues to share God’s plan with Mary, and he begins with these words: “Do not be afraid, Mary.”

Clearly, these are words of great comfort. 

But, to her credit, Mary sticks around.

She lets Gabriel finish this life altering news story.

I don’t know how she did it, but Mary gives Gabriel the answer I’m sure he was hoping for:  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  

Mary is one trusting soul.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not so sure my old soul really, really, really, really trusts God sometimes.

I wrestle with him. Silently, I call him out. Especially when hearts are broken. God, where were you?

Sometimes, I need God to show me that he is at work. 

I need to know that the pulse of my trust can be revived, renewed.

And sometimes, he shows me.

On August 10, 2016, baby Charlotte came into this world. Three days later she was gone.

Charlotte died from a rare birth defect— heterotaxy syndrome. The defect impacts the heart and other organs. It causes these key internal organs to be located in abnormal places in the chest and abdomen. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

On Saturday, August 20, a memorial service, a celebration of Charlotte’s life took place at Trinity United Methodist Church. In my role as director of operations at our church, I’ve attended a lot of funerals over the years, but not one like this.

Charlotte’s life was celebrated. It was clear that in her short life, Charlotte was loved by her parents, her siblings, and grandparents.

Somehow, Charlotte’s parents regrouped from this setback.

As I parent, I’m not sure my faith would have carried me forward. 

How could the tragic loss of one child possibly bring about the life of another?

But in this case, for these young parents their faith and trust in God did.

On August 23, 2018, these trusting and faithful parents welcomed into this world Nora Elsie.

Right now, I’m pretty sure God is looking down upon me. He is thinking— how about that story for reviving your pulse, Bill? 

Does that help you to believe that I still report to work? 

Has the faithful trust of this young family taught you anything?

This fall like Mary pondered her interaction with the angel, Gabriel, I have been pondering the arrival of Nora Elsie.

Nora Elsie’s story is worth pondering.

Her story is remarkable. 

It is an affirmation of this line of scripture from Luke 1:37:

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

There are days when the world looks impossible to me.

Days when things go well beyond wrong.

And I guess on those days that’s when I need the Christmas story the most.

I need its hope.


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