December 2017

A few words about the solstice and Christmas.

As we move to the winter solstice, the darkening days seem reflective of the shadows thrown across our world—shadows cast by human selfishness, war, greed and lust for power and prominence. One can scarcely open an information source without being completely undone by the waves of bad news crashing upon one’s heart and mind.

We can try to drown out the bad news by throwing ourselves into Christmas shopping, parties, special events and family time. It is easy to circle our wagons and try to make sure that our piece of the American pie is tasty and topped with whipped cream, whatever form that might take.

This kind of response, though, is only a prettified way of avoiding the world and is in fact, contributing to the status quo. So what can we do?

In this advent season, I am praying every day that the Holy Spirit would keep me attentive to the voice of God, helping me to see and hear and respond, not despairingly or emotionally, to the waves of news and bad news, but to what is real and important–that which God chooses to put in my life right in front of me each present moment—whether that is an appeal for funds to help women in small African and South American villages, the clerk at the Aldi who is singlehandedly serving an entire waiting line of people, a child needing to unburden his heart or a friend needing a listening ear.

God’s call can be to politics or prayer, to baking or business. But if we move in those directions, it can’t be with the same old status quo, tit for tat or automatic pilot that has become the American way of life these days. Our responses need to come from a place of deep listening so that no matter what we are doing, no matter where our energies are directed, we are motivated by love, by service, by humility and by a willingness to be listening for the voice of Jesus—whose coming taught us about God’s kind of doing things upside down where power comes in the form of weakness and lowliness.

We celebrated our annual church Christmas party on Sunday—a cherished time together. Every single year I have to pray every day leading up to it that amidst the endless lists of preparations and work, that my heart is turned to the real purpose of our party—to remind each one of our people that they are beloved members of God’s family and that the joy and welcome we extend to them when they come into our home is a direct and tangible reflection of Jesus’ welcome and love for them. The work, the shopping, the cooking and baking–all of it would be wasted if it doesn’t contribute to reflecting Jesus’ love for his people.

So friends, I pray as I write today, that you will continue to be attentive to Jesus in your hearts as Christmas flows on to the new year and that you may join me as we stretch to be ready to hear how Jesus wants us to manifest his love and mercy and welcome in the world to the people we meet each day and  be ready for the opportunities to respond to energies of the Spirit that will challenge the status quo and contribute to light and life amidst the darkness.

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