A New Year

P1010973Much has happened since the last update.  Hannah and I decided to settle in Hillsdale, Michigan for the time being until our way forward in ministry becomes more clear.  God has been teaching us a good deal about the truth, joy, and sorrow of his promise to the ancient clergy of Israel in Deuteronomy 18.  I am presently working as a clerk at a local business, Broad Street Downtown Market.  Sometimes I’m asked what my hobby is these days, and I generally answer ‘Finding church work as a clergyman.’  Pray for us as we seek to walk faithfully before God as his chosen Levites.

P1020006P1020015A cause of great joy for us was given this past October with the birth of our daughter Maria Grace.  She will be three months come the 12th.  I had the great honour and joy to baptize Maria a week ago on the 28th of December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, at the Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin, Nashotah House.  Her godparents Dcn. and Mrs. Aaron Prosser and Miss Hilary Tucker were all present.  In fact, Hilary was able to stay with us for a week and celebrate the majority of Christmastide and the arrival of the New Year.

Back in November we traveled to Knoxville, Tennesee to visit with Hannah’s family for Thanksgiving.  As most of the Tuckers are dispersed across the lower-48 and New Zealand, a couple families were absent and sorely missed, but as it was, we had 24 people gathered at Tim and Heidi Enloe’s house and a merry time was had by all.  Maria got to meet many of her cousins, aunts, uncles, and her other two grandparents.  It was also really good for Hannah and I to spend some time with our two goddaughters.  It is amazing how quickly they are growing.

As Epiphany looms closer and our minds turn toward contemplating the Visit of the Magi, I often think about the very unstable nature of life for the Holy Family for those first few years of our Lord’s life.  Born in Bethlehem away from where his parents called home, fleeing into Egypt after the Magi visited them, and then returning to live in Nazareth of Galilee because Archelaus, the brutal successor to the cruel Herod “the Great”, had become Ethnarch of Judah.  It’s too easy to have the sentimental picture of the Holy Family, Mary and Joseph adoring the Christ Child in the comfort of the stable or the house they later lived in.  If Caryl Houselander’s book “The Reed of God” has reminded me of anything, it’s that the life of our Lady and the Holy Family was anything but comfortable.  There is always an Advent before Christmastide, always preparation, emptying, and waiting before God brings his plans to fruition.  And even then, those plans will likely not be so comfortable.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy having the reminder of the three feasts following Christmas Day: Saint Stephen the Martyr, Saint John the Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents.  We remember death, persecution, and a massacre in the midst of our Christmas joy.  We proclaim with the angelic hosts ‘Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,’ but it is the peace of God, ‘not as the world gives.’  God’s peace is a dangerous sort of peace.  It’s not the friendly handshake at Church or even the more affectionate kiss on the cheek.  God’s peace is the grace to hope in the midst of sorrow, to believe when everything looks bleak, to love when it feels like there is nothing but hate and bitterness in your heart.  God’s peace doesn’t lessen the trials, but it does give you the fortitude you lack to endure them.

With that, I leave you with the best wishes of the Hilgendorf clan for a merry Christmas and a happy Epiphany.

May the Holy Family pray for us all.  Jesu, mercy!

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