Rev. Daniel Humbert shares his personal journey through the death of his sister, support of the church, and the hope that Christmas brings. Read his story and join us on Sunday to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Learn more at TMUMC.ORG/christmas.
It's the kind of phone call no one ever wants to receive. Not only do you not expect to receive such a call, but you are never prepared to respond to it, and you certainly don't want it. This kind of phone call shatters all expectations and all understandings. It literally tears at the foundation of our daily lives. I shall never forget that phone call.
It came mid-morning, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003. Kay and I were eating breakfast and enjoying time with our young son. It was a beautiful day. Then the phone rang. It was my mother. She was calling to let me know that my sister, Diane, was holding on to life by a thread at a local hospital. I didn't understand. To my knowledge she had been well. She had a good job, a wonderful family, a nice home. I knew she had been depressed, but I never expected…
I asked what happened. Mom began to weep. I looked at Kay. My heart sank. My mom told me that Diane had attempted to take her life earlier that morning. She was taken to the hospital where they were keeping her alive by machine. There was no brain activity. That was the epicenter of the wound.
The next thing I knew we were at the hospital and I was calling my brothers to inform them of the circumstances. More unwanted, unprepared phone calls. We spent the rest of the day at the hospital making choices with my 19-year-old nephew for my sisters remains. It was the most difficult day of my life.
I was numb. I didn't understand. I didn't know what to do, where to go. I was devastated. I needed some hope…just like my sister had needed hope. I needed to be somewhere that I could reclaim the promise that I knew were true—God is love and in that love, is found hope.
By day's end, I had asked a leader in my church to preach for me the next morning. Even though I wasn't going to preach, I knew I needed the love and support of my church family. I knew I needed to be surrounded by the love and hope of God. I needed so much more than what my mind and heart could provide.
So, I slipped into worship late and sat in the very back, so no one could see me. I sat next to Hulda, a dear saint of the church. Because she knew me so well, she knew I wanted both anonymity and care. She offered both. She didn't have to say or do anything. She just needed to demonstrate by her look, her embrace and her care that I was loved as I was—broken, bowed, and bleak.
What I discovered that morning was how sacred and special church families can be. And how important connection with Jesus is for me. The local church, where people are real and vulnerable, where people desire to love and be loved, is truly the hope of the world.
That hope is most clearly demonstrated at Christmas. The birth of Jesus is the birth of hope to a hurting world. His birth offers hope discovered in loving relationships. The birth of Christ issues in hope everywhere there is darkness or despair. Christmas is the very celebration of hope. Christ was born that hope might become real for everyone. Jesus offers light to our darkness, love over hate, joy beyond despair, peace in our turmoil, and hope for life.
I invite you to join us for any one of the six amazing opportunities to celebrate the Christmas Story of Hope this Sunday, December 24, Christmas Eve. There's bound to be a service and time for you:
- 9am Traditional Communion
- 11am Kid's Service—interactive and fun galore
- 3 & 5pm Contemporary Candlelight (band-driven and high energy)
- 7 & 9pm Traditional Candlelight (choir & orchestra led)
After Christmas that following year, I discovered an even more amazing gift of hope, when some of the people who had received organ transplants from Diane's body began to share their thanks with our family for the gift of life that she had offered to them. My sister had lost hope for herself, but because she was so caring and loving, she offered hope for others by giving them life through organ donation. She had made that decision long before her death. Hope never dies!
I invite you to discover hope this Christmas. Join us for the Christmas Story of Hope!
Rev. Daniel Humbert