I hope and pray that this e-vo finds you happy and well. The wait of Advent is just about over and Christmas time is soon upon us. For some this means it is time to be done with work or school for a few precious days—a time to linger with loved ones. For some this means it is finally time to open up all the presents and see what has come by way of gift. For some this is a time when we get to be with family and friends we don’t see often enough. I hope and pray that all these times come wonderfully alive for you.
The appointed epistle for Christmas Eve also brings an anticipated time into focus.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
God’s grace has appeared in the form of the babe of Bethlehem. He came not just to reset the sin-o-meter that was ticking away in our lives. Jesus came to show us how to be pious in a way that is different than that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus came to show us how to be free but not to use that freedom in service to our sinful desires. Jesus came to help us be upright and godly.
We are given time in our lives. From birth to death we have only so many days. During holidays we are given only so many days. Perhaps part of how God would have us bide that precious time is to give some away to someone or some cause that needs it. Perhaps we could read to a youngster—or serve in a soup kitchen—or lovingly listen to a story told for the fourteenth time by a dementia patient. It matters what we do with our time.
We are given gifts and blessings in our lives. We are equipped with gifts from birth, skills carefully cultivated over the years and resources from the generosity of others. In our lives we are given so many things. During holidays we are given so many more things. Perhaps part of how God would have us deal with all the gifts that come are way is to give them away. I am not speaking so much of re-gifting as much as blessings others with the blessings that we ourselves have received. Perhaps we could sing at a church service—or encourage and pray for a friend who is struggling—or give some of our piles of stuff away so others might be able to thrive more this winter. It matters what we do with our gifts.
We are given families and loved ones in our lives. By birth and by choice dear people become folded into our hearts. In our lives we are blessed with so many people who are crafted in the image of God. During the holidays we are blessed to gather for feast and fellowship with our beloved people. Perhaps part of how God would have us live as community is to embrace them and welcome the stranger. Perhaps we could set an extra place at our table and welcome the stranger—or perhaps we could dare to love the estranged member of our family—or perhaps we might move closer to the one we think has wronged us. It matters what we do with our family and our friends—and those who have yet to become our family and our friends.
God, you came into this world because we mattered to you. Help us resolve to live lives that matter. Help us carry ourselves in ways that please you and blesses many. Bless us in these matters. Amen.