What's It All About?

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I have stomached just about all the leftover cranberry sauce, dressing, and mashed potatoes one can take.  I am almost at the end of my discipline of a month of gratitudes.  Christ the King Sunday has come and gone.  Once again, I have contemplated Jesus as Lord of lords and King of kings.  The Christian year is about to start over.  The season of Advent is upon us.  The cup of hot chocolate fills my senses and warms my hands.  Christmas music fills the house taking me places my mind has not been in a while.  The Christmas tree is decorated with lots of ornaments that we have collected over the years.  Each one evoking a memory, calling to mind a story.  The LED lights wrap the tree in their illumination of rainbow colors.  Stockings are hung off the tv stand with care, and Christmas decorations permeate every room of the house.  In each room is at least one nativity in an endeavor to focus on the true meaning of the season.  On the hope chest in our bedroom, the nativity displays the holy family amidst the farm animals underneath the protection of the crèche.  A little farther down the chest is a shepherd caring for his sheep.  And even farther down the chest are the magi, en route to worship the newborn king.  The images call to mind the Christmas story, and I pause to reflect, once again, on what’s it all about.  

On the heels of things like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I take a moment to breathe in and breathe out, wanting something more from this holy season.  I breathe in hope, peace, and joy.  I breathe out anxiety, disappointment, and the tinge of sorrow.    

What's it all about?  Does this season still have the power to change the world?  

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."    

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Advent literally refers to the coming -- specifically the coming of Christ, the coming of Immanuel, the coming of God among us.  These four weeks are about actively waiting.  And in our waiting, we are called to tell the story of a God whose name is love.  We are to tell the story not only with our words, but even more importantly with our actions.  Today has been named, "Giving Tuesday."  For us, as Christians, we are called to make each day "Giving Tuesday".  This season (and beyond) invites us to participate in the incarnation, to participate in the story of the God who comes among us.  We have the opportunity to do Advent and Christmas differently.  How will you spend this season?  Will you allow the shoving and scramble of the season to whisk you through this holy time?  Or perhaps you will purposefully slow down.  Instead of focusing so much on endless presents, you will choose to give the gift of presence.  More time with your loved ones.  Intentional kindness to all who cross your path.  Not worrying about whether store clerks say, "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas," but instead embodying the love of God to all that you meet, realizing that, after all,  it is our story to tell.  Perhaps this season, we could reclaim the power of the Christmas story.  

In the midst of a suffering world, the long awaited Messiah, God among us was sent to bring healing, love, and grace.  That God of love is still among us bringing hope to the hopeless, joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of conflict, love in the midst of hatred.  And we are God's ambassadors to a hurting world.  May our lives be transformed by the God of vulnerability who loves us enough to continually come among us.  May we be willing to surrender to this God of love and love one another.  Help us to embody the spirit of Christmas not only now, but throughout the year.  Where there is loathing may we show love.  Where there is hostility may we live out Your peace.  Where there is sadness may we share joy.  May we be advocates for the least of these, the outcast, and the downtrodden.  May we not miss the point.  Most of all may we not miss out on your abiding presence.    

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