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Have you heard hoofbeats?

Several years ago, my mother-in-law invited the family on a Disney cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday. Grandmother Bell was the matriarch of a rather large family- 10 children, with accompanying spouses, and 30 grandchildren. Her birthday was always a big event, so most of the family gladly joined in a week-long celebration on the cruise. Dinners were lively with boisterous laughter from our corner of the hall. The pool was the scene of one too many cannon ball tournaments. And the Karaoke bar became the Bell Family haunt in the evening. With a few exceptions that you might know, most of the Bells are not known for their vocal talent. The motto of the family is ‘Loud and Proud’ which makes for some great Karaoke moments. One night, the grandchildren decided to serenade Grandmother for her birthday. They placed a chair in the middle of the dance floor to serve as her throne. Then, with all eyes trained on Grandmother for her reaction, the grandchildren took to the stage to begin their rendition of a Christmas classic- Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

If somehow you have missed that Christmas favorite over the years, it is a holiday song about a grandma who drank too much eggnog and had an unfortunate run-in with Santa's sleigh. Seven verses tell the tale of grandma’s demise, with a resounding chorus that echoes throughout:  
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.
Randy Brooks wrote the song with true Country-Western flair while working the club circuit in Texas in 1977. He told friends that his grandmother left him out of the will, thus the rather dark humor of the song. Whatever the origin, when the tune made its radio debut on Christmas Eve 1979, the response was ecstatic. Radio stations across the country clamored for the record. Soon the song evolved into cartoons, toys, and clothes. Even a Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer hot chocolate mix was created. By 1983, the song hit number 1 on Billboard’s Christmas Song Chart. The record eventually went gold, then platinum. Now, over four decades later, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is a part of most families’ holidays. It certainly is indelibly etched in Bell family lore.

I haven’t heard Grandma yet this year, but the Christmas season is just beginning. Sunday was the 1st Sunday of Advent. We sang the first carols. We hung Chrismons on the trees. We enjoyed a beautiful Advent Brunch compliments of our gracious Fellowship Team- many thanks! The season is off to a good start, and I know it’s just a matter of days until Grandma plays. Even K-Love (the Christian radio station) is known to play that classic! But even before the tune comes to ear, I am already hearing hoof beats like a drum sounding an inevitable alarm. The reindeer and all their demanding chaos are on the way. We haven’t taken our first sip of egg nogg, but we know from experience that the season is about to bowl us over, leaving “hoof prints on our foreheads.” Every year most of us find ourselves overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. I tell myself that ‘this year will be different,’ only to find myself once again flat on my back, trampled by another out of control season. I can’t stop now, there is too much to do! But perhaps I can pause…  

Sunday’s Advent Worship was a pause… singing carols, decorating the trees, hearing God’s promise of hope in the Emmanuel. The Advent Brunch was a pause… a sweet moment in the season to share a meal with our church family, listening to Christmas tunes, savoring pot-luck masterpieces, and laughing as our little ones toddle precariously between legs. Today, I will pause to read the Advent Devotional written by our own Lenape Valley community. The gem for this day is written by Aliyah Clift, Loretta Clift’s granddaughter. She wrote her piece in honor of her grandmother who has inspired years of Advent and Lenten devotionals. Aliyah calls us to celebrate a season not just a day. Hopefully, in that season we will find time to pause… again and again. Pause before you get out of bed… to offer the day back to God’s good will. Pause before you take that first bite… to give thanks. Pause before you get out of your car to run an errand… to pray for someone in your life. Pause before you close your eyes in sleep… to give thanks once again. Pause…

Today, invite someone in your life to share a pause moment with you… at an Advent worship each Sunday, or the Messiah sing-along on December 16th, or the Joy to the World Christmas Concert on December 17th, or the Christmas Eve Candlelight services here at Lenape Valley. Every year, the Silent Night candlelight moment takes my breath away and gives me a pause that fills my heart. Share a precious, life-giving pause moment with someone you love. Perhaps this year the beat we will hear will be from the drum of a Little Drummer Boy.

Pausing with you today,
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