Good Friday morning ... and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Last night I finished my annual box of chocolate covered cherries. Actually, they are really called "Cordial Cherries" ... but I just call them chocolate covered cherries ... because that's what they are. Ten (there used to be twelve), sixty-caloried candies housed in a two-layer box about twice the size it needs to be.

These candies are not my candy of choice and I certainly don't need their caloric, sugary content ... but I still eat every one ... every year ... and enjoy every bite! It's kind of a family tribute.

You see ... somewhere back in our family history (I don't remember quite when or how it got started) one of my four children started buying me a box of chocolate covered cherries as a stocking stuffer for Christmas. Now for the last thirty years or so (perhaps even longer) ... the rectangular 6.6 once box of candies (it used to be 8 ounces) shows up under the tree with my name on it ... a gift from one of my children. And every year I show the same eager surprise upon unwrapping this sweet-laden treat. Though I generally share other Christmas treats ... this one I tuck away and relish all by myself. Like I said ... it's kind of a family tribute.

My four children are all grown, of course ... each gainfully and productively pursuing chosen careers ... making their way over the troublesome paths of our twenty-first century ... seeking that fulfillment of life God has laid out for them. And of each one, I am terribly, enormously, wonderfully proud!

But each year ... upon the opening of this single gift ... my heart and mind are transported back in time ... to memories of four growing, active children ... to cries of joy and tears of pain and giggles of laughter and whispers of under-the-cover secrets ... to sibling-versus-sibling whiffle ball games and Saturday afternoon encounters with "Whammy,"  a field-tested, cherished 100cc Honda bike ... to rainy soccer championships, chilly lacrosse practices and field hockey finals ... to piano recitals and band concerts, school plays, youth trips and Leaders Club at the "Y" ... to Sunday afternoon visits and crab feasts with Breyers vanilla ice cream topped with "Jimmies" ... to summer weeks at the beach and very special family trips to a family-treasured place called Mohonk ... to morning breakfasts and evening dinners at our homemade, pine harvest table ... to a makeshift basement roller skating rink, a screened porch for all occasions, and an attic bedroom for two ... to so very many memories, none an outstanding favorite ... but all a dreamy, come-from-the-past reminiscence.

There is something very significant about the memories: there is no heartache ... no shattered image of "what-if" reflections ... no regretful images ... for with the passage of time and by the grace of God, the pain that comes by way of parenthood somehow, someway dissipates ... and the memory treat from the past is riddled with silent smiles and warm fuzzy grins ... something perhaps only a parent of grown children can know.

Last night I finished my annual box of chocolate covered cherries ... and I was once again covered in memories. I am thankful for the memories ... for visions of fun and good times ... and for the grace that covers what is ugly ... and for my Father who showed me the way to forgive.
"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." [Psalm 127:3-5]
Have a blessed first weekend of the New Year ... and stay warm wherever you are ...

Service Times

8:30 AM - Traditional Worship Service

9:40 AM - Sunday School & Bible Study Classes for all ages

11:00 AM - Contemporary Worship Service

Holy Communion is celebrated at both services on the first and third Sundays of each month.


Grace Lutheran Church & School

12200 McCormick Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 928-9136