God of comfort, these times seem so uncertain, so scary.
The world seems darker than it has in the past
and I am less sure of myself.
Maybe that's a good thing;
maybe now I am turning to you with a realization
that I need you so much more
and that my life is not in my own control.
Let me not forget all of those around the world
who are frightened at this moment.
Help those who are victims of terrorism and war.
Be with those who have lost so much in the past year.
Hold us all in your loving arms and let us be comforted
by the strength and peace you want to much to offer us
through the birth of your son, Jesus.
Thank you for the many gifts you offer us.
from Praying Advent
A friend said to me recently, "I have to keep remembering that the birth of the savior was traumatic. This is not an idyllic time, this is the intensifying of a battle between God and Satan. But, it is also the tangible evidence that we are loved beyond imagination because God chose to be born and live among us."
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves this time of year. Family members that fight, or ignore one another, all year long suddenly try to act nice and eat dinner without choking it down or shoving it down someone's throat. We overspend, fighting over parking spaces or that one last sweatshirt with the light up Rudolph nose, all in some idea that the recipients will be gushing with gratitude or, worse, that we aren't good friends/mothers/daughters if we don't participate in the shopping frenzy.
What if none of this is the meaning of this season? Would it freak you out? Would you sigh in relief? Would you ignore me as just another odd voice crying from her wilderness?
I don't think Jesus cares about our trees or our gifts or our cards or even that we celebrate his birth in December. 'Course, most of us don't even get that far. We see Santa. We bake cookies. We celebrate the secular holiday with the world but leave only an hour or two for the commemoration of such a holy night. God born into this hectic, unsettled world, brings a hush over the night.
This sacred night that changed the world can change our hearts if we allow. It can also change what gifts we bring.
How about if we give the gift of honesty? We listen to our hearts? How about the gift of generosity? We invite homeless and addicted and lost and sick to eat with us instead of our family? We give to those who have very little instead of our family who has plenty? How about the gift of hope to those who have none? How about the gift of kindness to the neglected? How about the.....
Jesus' sword is suffering for his cause. How much do we suffer? Have we given till we ate peanut butter and jelly? Have we sacrificed net flix or cable? Have we been ridiculed lately for being too nice, too loving, too God focused? Have we even felt awkward lately because we talked about our faith?
I am learning some things this holiday season, and I am ok with not being peaceful and comfortable. He is a God of surprises. I don't know what he is up to, but I look forward to finding out. (I think.)