I have received word that my dear friend, Marion Gagan Kovach, has gone home to be with her Savior. The following Reflection was written just this morning, knowing that He might be coming for her very soon. While I am bereft, already feeling lost without my friend’s presence here, I wholeheartedly affirm the words of this Reflection and rejoice that she is no longer suffering.
A dear friend of mine is at this moment struggling for breath in a cancer ICU. We typically think of the celebration of Advent as a happy and lighthearted time. It is not always so. Though I have known and been friends with her for 30+ years, I feel as if I’ve known her all my life. She and I both were dancers in our young girl years and I imagine we would have been BFF’s in dance class, working our plies, tandus, and pirouettes together. She has been valiantly battling esophageal cancer for 2 1/2 years, and it has been my privilege to walk alongside her, trying to keep in touch as best we can through it all.
We speak of Advent as an anticipation of Christ’s coming to us as a babe in a manger. Indeed it is just this. But we sometimes miss the fact that He comes to us in a multiplicity of ways. The entire Christmas story is rife with numerous ways God comes to His people: an Angel of the Lord comes to Mary to bring her the news that God is going to come to her, overshadow her, and birth in her His only Son. An army of God’s messengers come to the Shepherds in the field to announce the birth of Christ. God comes to Joseph in a dream to allay his fears and give instruction for the path ahead. God comes to the Three Kings in a dream to tell them to travel another way. In fact, the entirety of the Scriptures is an unfolding of all the ways God has come to us. Not the other way ’round.
I astonish myself with how I know this to be true, that the King of Heaven comes to His children, but I live as if I’m the one who has to reach, grasp, and work my way to God. There is not a single story in the Bible where people have successfully gotten themselves together, cleaned up their act, been nice enough, smart enough, wise enough, to achieve the status “made it to heaven.” In fact, usually their efforts to earn salvation or God’s approval go horribly wrong. But God…
He comes to us in Advent as a baby, because that is what we are…helpless, vulnerable, dependent babes. He does ALL the work of coming to save His own. He alone rescues. He alone provides. He alone comforts. He alone grants faith, grace, and mercy. He also comes to us in our death. We do not travel that lonely dreadful path alone. Soon He will reach out His hand to my friend and say those precious words…“Talitha, koum”. He will take her by the hand and say “Dear little one, get up and go with me into eternity! Breathe freely, plie, tandu and pirouette to your heart’s content! ” Yes, even in death, He comes to His own. Emmanuel. God. With. Us.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
12 thoughts on “Advent”
Oh Jennifer. I read your earlier post just about an hour or so ago and now to hear that God took her to be with Him in glory made me sad for you but what a wonderful thing that you penned such wonderful and true words of God’s dealing with us and with her on the eve of her journey. May He shower mercy and comfort to you and her loved ones. Imagine the rejoicing in Heaven that a beloved daughter has come home.
Thank you dear Cheryl, for these sweet words. It has been gut wrenching today, but so hope-filled. She and I leaned on each other for everyday life stuff…she leaves quite a hole in my world. God alone is our comfort. Thank you.
On a Sunday morning, many years ago, cancer took a friend and member of our Bible study group. She fought valiantly for four years. As a handful of members stood around her bed, we prayed, we sang old hymns, our church was also praying several miles away. And as we sang “we are standing on holy ground” she went home to be with her Lord and Savior. While a very sad time, I will always remember it as a highlight in my life–to be so privileged to see her to heaven’s gate. May you find comfort in your years of friendship with Marion.
Thank you Mona for this. In the midst of my sadness today, the thing I really wish I had been able to do is just what you described with your friend. But Marion did not want visitors in these last few days. And so I prayed and sang to her from afar, here in Kernersville, with her there at Baptist. It has been hard not to have been able to hug her neck right before going home to her Father. But I know she knew my love for her.
Thank you for this lovely and profound reflection on God’s love, and as you point out, His reaching to us, not the other way round. Prayers for His comfort & love to enfold you in this (temporary) loss of your friend.
Thank you Zoe for your words to me and the sweet reminder that this separation is only temporary. I will dance with her one day in glory!
I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Yet today, yours were the very words I most needed to hear. “God with us”. Even me.
Along with you, I celebrate the life of your friend, Marion. Take care. Love, Dianne
Thank you for sharing this with me Dianne…”God with us” is so poignant for me as well. That He deigns to dwell with me and with you, is a precious thing to hold very close. I’m grateful for Marion’s friendship through the majority of my life. She will be sorely missed.
These are the most difficult times of our lives. May the many wonderful memories you made together bring you comfort and then, finally, joy . ❤️
Thank you Phyllis for your kindness here. I hope you and your dear family have had a lovely Christmas and will enjoy a beautiful New Year! So very good to hear from you! :))
I’m sorry for your loss. Your words are beautiful. Dying is such a holy and grace filled time and so many don’t see it. It’s awful and painful and He is there. Mom died in March, gasping for air and it was awful but so very filled with grace and His hand was there.
Oh Jill…how sorry I am to hear of you losing your dear mom. But it is indeed a grace to have the knowledge that our loved ones are whole and happy and in the presence of their loving Maker! I pray you have had a wonderful Christmas and now may you enjoy a lovely New Year celebration! All the best to you! -Jennifer