Blog Post by Rev. Marilyn “MP” Panco
Associate Pastor-St. Mark Presbyterian
Member of Dynamic Leaders Team and DRAWP as Children/Youth Team

As I sit here in my office anticipating the flurry of frantic activities that will surround Christmas and New Year’s I listen to calm music while watching beautiful landscapes move across the TV screen mounted on my wall. Thoughts of family and memories of Christmases past turn into smiles, laughter, then tears and even sobs. All of these reflecting joy and sadness both.

This time of year, things seem to be a bit more difficult than most for some folks. And like many of you, I am not immune to the effects of the holiday blues. My mother has been dead for more than five years and my father died this year ultimately making my siblings and me adult orphans. I didn’t think that this milestone would change my life so much. I mean I lived through this same milestone as each of my parents became adult orphans. And yet, though I had a sense of what those losses meant to them, I never realized the full depth of their situation until now. I miss my parents deeply and long to live out if even in my dreams, a single moment back in their presence.

This time of year, in particular, I hold fast to the promises that God has been faithful to throughout history. I believe that my parents are enjoying freedom from their earthly bodies and all that ailed them while here on earth. I know that they are in the company of triune God and all the heavenly saints And God’s faithfulness brings me immense joy. But joy does not equal happiness.

Joy is that thing that we can count on even when and often especially when we are in a place of darkness, sadness, or grief. We can be joyful and be sad at the same time. We can be in God’s presence and feel joy as we cry out for God to hold us and heal us from what hurts. We can experience joy as we remember the blessings of our family and friends in heaven and at the same time experience sadness that we can no longer make new memories with them.

Having outlived my parents, I am an adult orphan for the first time this Christmas. And for that, I am sad. Having accepted Christ as my savior, I know that God has provided me with a second family. A family of believers in Jesus Christ. In the midst of my sadness, that is the joy I hold on to.

Prayer: God, we know that you love us and that you hear our prayers. God of love, hope, peace, and joy, in the midst of all we will experience this time of year, help us to find and hold on to the joy that You have promised through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Rev. Marilyn Panco or Pastor “MP”
Associate Pastor – St. Mark Presbyterian
Member of Dynamic Leaders Team and DRAWP as Children/Youth Team


  • Posted December 28, 2021 4:56 pm
    Diane McCullough

    Dear MP, Prayers for you and all those who are mourning the absence of loved ones this year. Thank God for the blessing of faith, hope and love in the Christ child. Peace and Joy!!

  • Posted December 28, 2021 5:12 pm
    Susan Andrews

    Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability. So many have lost loved ones this year. You speak for them.

  • Posted December 28, 2021 8:02 pm
    John Goodwin

    Rev. MP, thank you for sharing. I felt almost to tears reading your “blog post.” And then I remembered how I felt when I lost my last parent ( I had four), how much I hurt all of a sudden at the loss of the last parent, and how very thankful and comforting it was and is to have another family. I’m especially thankful for family members able to share from the heart. I really appreciate this Christmas blessing.

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