In the Lectionary

Sunday, December 29, 2013: Matthew 2:13-23; Isaiah 63:7-9

When my mother visited my church for the first time, a woman greeted her during the passing of the peace. Realizing that she was speaking to the pastor’s mother, the woman asked, “Just how many children do you have?”

“Six,” my mom responded. Then she hastily corrected herself. “Well, five who are living.” As she turned to the next person her eyes filled with tears.

Her firstborn, my oldest brother, drowned more than 50 years ago. Aside from a fading baby picture and a pair of copper-­glazed baby shoes, one could know our family fairly well without ever hearing about my brother’s short life. Yet sometimes the pain is so fresh, so very real, that the most benign of questions can cause my mother to relive it at random moments—like during the passing of the peace in her daughter’s church.