There is something about the holiday season that gives me this secret, hushed solemnity. The darkness of night falls early and weighs down my steps and thoughts. I stop and sit by the light of the Christmas lights and can’t help but still my rushing torrent of motion and busyness. I sit and ponder and yearn for the coming of the King.
I don’t love this season for the gifts and the food or even extra family time. I love the simple poignancy of expectation. It feels like everyone is holding their breaths and waiting for ultimate Good to descend.
We can all feel it, even if we can’t explain or admit it, even those of us who ache with loss and pain during the holidays. We feel that expectation for good shattered and strangled by absence and suffering. The heartbreak of now and yesterday clouds the hope of the Baby already come and the final restoration tied up in the not yet.
We all worship. We were born worshipping. So, what then captures my deepest attentions during the year? What demands my time and money and devotion? To what have I sworn allegiance? To what am I most attached and has my highest priorities? What rallies my passions and stirs my affections? What are my addictions, my motivations?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
It’s amazing how many times I really have to preach the gospel to myself. Why do I forget it so easily? Why do have to tell myself over and over and over that it’s not ultimately about me and the here and now?
It’s not about giving my life meaning it’s about giving.
It’s not about fulfilling and satisfying my heart here. It’s about Christ satisfying my debt by his death and fulfilling God’s requirements of righteousness that I never can.
It’s not about having a family or even going back home to be with my God given family. It’s about recognizing that we are all made in the image of God and then showing/offering/being family – the unconditional, sacrificial, and selfless kind – for those around me.
That burning desire to belong somewhere and to something didn’t die out when I finally passed from those awkward adolescent years. I seek it out in my peers at work, at the gym, with my friends, on Sunday mornings. It’s what takes all my free time; causing me to burn the candle at both ends and see how much I can fit in a day, a week; aching to connect and be a part of something bigger and hear someone say I’m needed and necessary.
But I am simply (and indescribably!) made in the image of my Creator.
That is the only truth I need. The beaten down man begging for a dollar on the street corner – made in the image of my Mighty God. The obnoxious complainer at work – formed in the image of the Prince of Peace. The broken, insecure woman at the gym – fashioned in the image of the Wonderful Counselor.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom 12:1)
How do I even being to express thanks to the Redeemer of my very soul? I worship. I intentionally turn my thoughts to the Gospel. I replace my inner torrent of complaints and protests, and objections with reflections of his goodness and blessings and mercies.
I stop focusing inward and start looking for ways to pour outwards. I struggle to find a reason to send a simple email only expressing gratitude at work. I pause before giving my order and sincerely greet the barista. I trade that annoyance at a person who does not fill my expectation for a prayer for their good and God’s glory. I give. I carve out the time to serve.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
Until He comes again.
Based on Luke 2
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