Received Packages are Sweet, Even If Opened Later

I received a package today and, as usual, had to wait to open it. The surprise of discovering what lies inside excites me. Having to wait to open it just makes the anticipation grow all the more. Even if it’s a present for someone else, like today’s was (we’ve done a majority of our Christmas shopping online this year; Amazon Prime baby!), I’m thrilled just knowing that someone I care for deeply will soon open a wrapped present this Christmas and receive the gift with wonder and joy.

Jenkin Lloyd Jones of the 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery, received a package from home on August 28, 1863. Jones had to wait to open his package on account of rain. Here’s how it went down:

Fine day. Just before dinner I was informed that there was a box for me at the express office… Found it “a good large one,” but just as I got in the wagon it commenced raining, and did rain all the way back, giving us as good a wetting as ever a soldier had… Obliged to lay the box away for two hours before the storm abated so as to open it… But at last it stopped and we found lots of good things, butter, cake, dried fruit, cheese, etc. Much obliged to you. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

When you’re fighting in the American Civil War, miles and miles from the ones you love, received packages from home are oh so sweet. Jones must have sat pondering for two straight hours what was in that box. Perhaps that added to his gratitude when he discovered the thoughtful and even literally sweet contents found inside from the ones who love him.

Many of us will be receiving gifts this Advent / Christmas season. Whether big or small, what you hoped for or not, I hope that each one is as dear to you as the one Jenkins Jones received in love. Perhaps its just the pastor in me, but please do take the time to reflect upon Jesus Christ amidst every gift you get this Christmas. He is the sweetest gift you can ever receive from God, or anyone else for that matter; for he too was given in love, from the very One who is love.

Until next time, Anticipate gifts of love…

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Prayer for a Safe Return

In reading About me, you’ll discover that I’m a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Every week, a group of church members at FUMC Monroe pray for me and the other pastors before we lead in worship, preaching, etc. on Sunday mornings. And, boy do we need those prayers!

One of the people who regularly prays for us is a retired colonel in the United States Air Force. Yesterday, as usual, I was reminded how families of soldiers in the American Civil War must have prayed the same type of prayer that Charlie offers up for those in service to our country.

Lord, we ask a special blessing upon our men and women in uniform. Keep them out of harm’s way until they arrive home to the families who await their safe return. (Source: Charlie Moore)

Every time I hear Charlie pray this, I think of similar sentiments I’ve previously read in Civil War soldiers’ diary entries. One Union soldier by the name of Jenkin Lloyd Jones records this in his diary on September 14, 1863:

And now we are off again, we know not where, but we know it is for war, marching, fatigues, battles and perhaps wounds and suffering, and that, while the anxious heart of an invalid mother, an aged father, sisters and brothers dear, are waiting my return. And I am comparatively alone, and the only happiness I derive is in the indulgence of hope of the realization of the good time coming. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

Jones was a Wisconsin man in the state of Mississippi when he wrote this; he certainly was a long way from being safe at home! Another Union officer by the name of Luman Harris Tenney noted a sort of blessing that someone spoke over him and his fellow comrades on September 18, 1863:

Woman said, “Noble and brave Union boys, God grant you may all return home safely, our country at peace.” (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

Perhaps you’re a family member of or you know someone who is currently serving. Do them a favor, pray for them and their families. They sure do need the comfort of God, the Father, the peace of Christ Jesus, His Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Until next time, may God bless you and keep you…