Secret Shoppers and Christianity

So I know that what I’m about to say is going to date me, but I’ll just deal with those ramifications. A few weeks ago I was listening to my Pandora station when an ad came on that really caused me to think. Yes, Pandora, and, double yes; the free version – with ads. While my children have found the wherewithal to pay for their own Spotify subscriptions, all of the other subscriptions that they find necessary, are being paid for by myself – and I have a problem paying to listen to music.

Back to the ad. It caught my attention because it mentioned two things that I encounter on a very regular basis; Kroger, and very specifically, Kroger’s produce section. In the ad Kroger touted their solution to ensuring that their produce section stayed fully stocked with fresh produce – secret shoppers.

Now, we certainly all have opinions on Kroger and produce, but let’s just set that to the side for a few minutes because I want to talk about secret shoppers. Secret shoppers are hired by companies to covertly shop the companies they are hired by to determine whether or not employees are following the procedures that they have been presumably instructed to follow. As someone with a background in retail I know that there is definitely some value in utilizing secret shoppers. The responsibility of a secret shopper is to give the company they have purchased from feedback on the encounters they have been instructed to check in the store they are shopping. Presumably this is to keep employees on their toes and always following procedures because there are usually harsh ramifications for employees if a secret shopper ‘catches’ certain violations or lapses.

But let’s think about this for a minute. A major grocery retailer advertised that they knew that their produce was fresh because they were using secret shoppers to check their stores. Now you might think that’s a great idea but let’s think of some alternatives for a moment. They didn’t advertise that they had their employees performing regular checks. They didn’t advertise that their coolers were kept at appropriate temperatures. They didn’t advertise how they might ship or package their product. They advertised that they were employing people to go behind their employees to make sure standards are being followed.

The implication in the ad was clear – if our employees are not fulfilling their standards; we’ll catch them. For someone who has worked in retail there is also a secondary implication – those bad employees are going to pay! What a way to encourage people to shop in their store!?

I’m afraid that Kroger has learned something from our evangelical churches. There is some idea of value in assuring people that we’ll catch and expose your faults. The goal of the secret shopper is to make sure that your employees are always on their toes. For a company that advertises that their items are kept fresh by employing secret shoppers I can only imagine the pressure that those employees feel.

In the church this is an enterprise with which we are intimately familiar. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that we are the great secret shoppers which will determine whether or not those who attend church with us, profess some love for Jesus, or in some way are identified with the church as a whole, or are even just folks we pass in the street; are true Christians.

We have forgotten the purpose of encouraging others, of bearing others burdens. Instead, we spend our time peeking into their grocery carts, tsking over their Instagram, and wondering what’s in their glass at the restaurant table. We judge each other for the videos we’ve seen, the amount of church services we’ve missed, the podcasts they do or do not listen to, and whether or not we use the right ‘religious lingo’ in conversations. And all of this is before we even begin talk about politics.

We should be affirming others. Blessing others. Seeking others out to simply bring hope and encouragement to them – not to make them feel shamed and exploited.

A few days after hearing Kroger’s ad I was confronted with the by-product of this type of manipulation and the type of damage it brings about. In another retail establishment in our town I came across a cashier hopelessly overworked. By herself, she was working a line that had almost 15 customers with various amounts of items standing frustrated in queue.

When I reached her I was hoping that I could relieve her of some stress but I was struck by how robotic she had become. She gave me the company approved greeting, asked the appropriate question about signing up for rewards programs and all the way through until I left the store. This cashier, this hopelessly overworked lady; dealing with frustrated and angry customers was so locked in that it seemed she had lost all feeling. Had there been a secret shopper in her line – she would have passed with flying colors. But she was losing herself and the store as a whole would have been considered a failure in my book for even putting her in that position.

Some of us have been there. We’ve made sure that we’ve checked every box to ensure our Christianity and we’ve lost our joy. We lose our hope in Jesus. We begin to depend upon our ability to perform and forget that our hope is in the person of Jesus. We forget that our ability to perform the tasks that consume us become secondary as we focus on Jesus.

Yes, we have responsibilities, but our primary responsibility is knowing and participating in the life of God’s kingdom. When his kingdom becomes our focus, our ‘secret-shopping’ of others will fade and we will find ourselves looking for opportunities to bless and encourage and forget about the temporary thrill of ‘catching’ someone not performing up to our expectations and limitations.

We should want our grocery stores to rely on training and promotion from within to ensure that we have fresh produce. We should rely on the person of Jesus and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of ourselves and others. Let’s guard against becoming robotic in our performance as a Christian by simply following reciting the phrases given to us by others. Discover Jesus. Read the Gospels. Allow his mercy to find root in our hearts and continue to transform us into his image.

Late Night Mowing – and realities

Swinging the world by the tail, bouncing

Sometimes in the thinking of life you find some solace. Not necessarily because you satisfy yourselves but rather you may just realize and come to rest on those things that are ‘actuals’; the things that matter now – and always will.

The yard needed to be mowed. Badly. After refusing to grow grass since early spring, in a weird twist of timing the yard was demanding to be mowed – and the last thing I wanted or needed to do was mow the yard.

I usually don’t mind mowing the yard and it allows time to think but on that night I didn’t really want to think. It really was a perfect storm of emotions that were swirling in my mind that night; our oldest child being married, ongoing vehicle issues, the priceless wonder of seeing a nephew adopted from foster care, our own foster frustrations, and the daily reality of being a human, spouse, and parent.

Oh, and it was 8:40PM before I could start. And then came the praying, the thinking, and the praying.

The first reminder that came that night is that our hopes and dreams for our kids are always bound up in who they are. Whether or not they are a kind person, a compassionate person, or a giving person is the sum total of what matters. Everything else is fluff. This can be helpful when we begin to give consideration to where our kids may or may not live, and the pursuits of their lives. We’ve always known this, but the finality of a wedding helps drive this point home.

The second reminder and reality that came that night is that we should never forget that more is caught than taught. Both of my boys are old enough and certainly capable of mowing our yard. They also have been working full-time jobs and have other things that occupy their time. As I attempted to not miss any spots in the growing darkness I thought about how much easier it would have been to ‘tell’ one of the boys to cut the grass. However, if there is anything Christy and I have learned it is that our kids learn so much more from what they observe in us, than they do from the instructions they receive. And sometimes life insists that we mow our grass when we can’t hardly see.

The third reality came from what I was blessed to observe that morning. When Christy and I started our foster journey a little over three years ago we found out that my youngest sister and her husband had started their own journey at almost the exact same time. This past month, they adopted one of their former placements. The reality is this; let your heart be broken over what matters. Every day and twice on Sunday. As our very large and very extended family joined in that zoom call to watch and listen to the proceedings I realized that the joy and happiness would not be happening had my sister and brother in law not freely given up their hearts to love and potentially be crushed. Always be willing to have your heart be broken for that which always matters.

It was dark, and almost 9:30. I had started the task feeling frustrated and discouraged and yet as I pushed the mower back across the yard the last few times I was encouraged. I knew that in the morning I would see some patches that I missed but I felt the joy of completing a necessary task and the strength and hope that comes from knowing the presence of God. And then Allison Kraus and Robert Pratt came across Pandora with this iconic lyric:

Somebody said they saw me
Swinging the world by the tail
Bouncing over a white cloud
Killing the blues

My 45 minutes of mowing had come to an end but those three realities were resonating within my spirit in a way that they had not been when I had started. Truly, for just a few minutes I had been swinging the world by the tail. If you’re so inclined, click the movie below for more Alison Krauss’ as she joins Andrea Bocelli in singing Amazing Grace.

How Far is the Past

How Far is the Past?

This morning I saw a church sign that got me to thinking. I don’t have the exact wording because I was completing an illegal u-turn at the moment but the gist of the sign was this;

GOD ISN’T WORRIED

ABOUT YOUR PAST

I’ve always asked questions. In fact, the reason some folks don’t know how many questions I ask it is because I keep many of them to myself, because there is just too.many. questions. This particular sign, coupled with the teaching that I had just done this weekend for Youth Camp, led me to ask this question; how far is the past.

You see, I have been in church my entire life. Outside of a period of about 6 months when I was 19 I have attended church on a weekly basis – multiple times a week. I have heard a lot of sermons. I won’t call myself on expert on anything, but I do have strong opinions on my ability to ascertain to which group a pastor is seeking to appeal or what group they are trying to convince their audience that they belong to. This being said, I have some observations about what we might mean when we say ‘past’.

Does our past mean what we did yesterday, last month, last year, a few decades back? What does this mean? Now I know that past means it is something that we’re not currently doing, but even then this is murky at best. I’m not currently procrastinating, but I’ve got to tell you that there is a tendency to slip back into habits that I would describe as being selfish and self-promoting at best. I wrote that final phrase in italics as a reminder that this is really one of the simplest definitions of sin: selfish and self-promoting.

Does our past mean something that others are not currently affected by? How do we define how long someone was/is affected? Does it rely on the offenders viewpoint or the one who was mistreated or harmed? There are realities that are quickly forgotten or absorbed and then there are realities in which the offense seems to grow as time continues.

Does this mean we have to agree on exactly what was damaging or the amount of damage caused in the past? Solomon tells us that longing for ‘good ole days’ is ridiculous because they never actually happened in the way that we remember them. Certainly this would apply to almost everything in the past. This is not to minimize harm or hurt that has been caused in the past but rather to realize that as we pass through time the way we view and acknowledge realities changes. It’s not just agreeing on what happened but also how it affected everyone going forward and their responses to other moments.

When he was writing Ephesians Paul wrote down the way that God views us. It’s not the way we view others and even on the best of days it is rarely the way we view ourselves, but it is the way that God views us.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them

There are four different translations there for you to read. In every one of these translations it becomes clear that this is present tense. Yes, the scripture goes on to describe what will be but never miss what we are; God’s masterpiece, His workmanship, God’s handiwork, his creative work.

Regardless of how you’ve ever been led to feel about your past I can assure you of one thing. You are God’s masterpiece. He is at work in your life. He is at work around you. He completely values you.

And yes, the church sign is correct;

GOD ISN’T WORRIED

ABOUT YOUR PAST

Psalm 1

Praying the Psalms | Letting the Psalms Pray You

In my adult life I’ve been advised on more than one occasion to ‘Pray the Psalms’. Usually there was no further instruction, and as I usually have quite a few questions I found myself flummoxed by this. Some of these same folks would also advise that I read a Proverb chapter a day as a way to ward off the possibility of temptation or sin, and I had some difficulty matching the two realities; Psalms, often laments, with Proverbs, often declarations of behavior.

Then I came to know the writings of Eugene Peterson. The humility which dominates Petersons’ writings began to reveal the Psalms to me in a completely unexpected way. No longer were the weapons for me to add to my arsenal in my attempt to keep God on my side, but rather they were revelations of myself through the cry of those who have gone before. The communion of saints if you will.

So, I’m starting out here to pray the Psalms. However, I will warn you that if you attempt this you will often find that the Psalms are really praying for you, around you, and over you. They reveal so much of our desires, hopes, fears, and obstacles and allow us to focus on God and his steadfast faithfulness.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of the mockers, but whose delights is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it’s fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.

God I need a better understanding of what it means to be blessed. I think in terms of money, power, and prestige, and this confuses me when I read this because things don’t look the way I expect. Full confession; I often act selfish in that I choose what I want and my wife over others, even you; and this is sin for I miss the opportunity to live the way you have created me to live. And, I really struggle with not sitting in the seat of the mockers – it seems like when I focus on myself that I know so much more than anyone else.

I need your help to focus on your law; to love God and to love others. I forget this and go about looking for ways to make myself greater. I find myself often unwilling to slowly grow and I go back to defining fruit as those tangible things that appear for a moment to make me happy.

I confess a need to learn to wait and trust in you. To allow your truth; your love for all of us, to water and shape my life. Help me give birth to fruit that looks like care for people. Help me understand prosperity as you understand prosperity. To know that Jesus’ forgiveness of others is something that I too can extend to others is what I can look forward to as a reward for serving you.

Not so the wicked! They are like the chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

I see this. I know this. And yet I struggle. At times I could care less about the fact that those who are selfish expend all of their energy chasing one whim after another. Rather I want to see them struggle as I struggle. Your assurance that what we do from your law; love of you and love of others, will last. I pledge myself to that. You remind me that those things I do in and for myself will not allow me entrance to where you hold your eternal court. I commit myself to knowing and searching you. Keep me from the path of destruction which is fueled by selfishness and fear. Lead me in the path of righteousness which is found in service and in love.

Let’s Talk

To my kids first; I expect you to be the more giving person. You’ve seen so much, you care so much, and you are capable of so much in your life. Do not spend your early adulthood nursing resentment and anger towards your grownups for their refusal or inability to see things from your perspective. To my grownups; let’s make no mistake about it, we must be the more giving person. After all we have said and taught to our children over the last 20 plus years or more let’s not be willing to show a lack of restraint and inability to control our emotions when our kids refuse to see things from our perspective. For either side we prove the other side correct when we seek to control and manipulate as well as refusing to listen and engage with what we are being challenged by.

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Some of you all are actually saying your children may not actually be Christians because they are voting for a democrat. Is your God that small? Is Jesus’ redemptive work so restricted that only those who are exactly like you are saved? Let’s be honest, this is a shame and blame method that Jesus would have nothing to do with and just might take a whip to us for employing it.

You kids aren’t off the hook here. Some of you are doubting that your parents are Christians because they refuse to acknowledge and address the grievances of their political party. Is your God that small? Is Jesus’ redemptive work so restricted that only those who are as inclusive as you can be saved? Let’s be honest, this is the same legalism as above; just employed from your perspective. It may have been the former prostitute standing at the cross with Jesus, but don’t forget that it was the Pharisee who buried him.

Let’s talk for a minute about the donkey – the sticking point – in the room. Good old facts. Both groups say that the other refuses to acknowledge facts. Not true at all. The reality is that we each choose to give various weight to each of the facts that are brought forward. 2 + 2 does equal 4 but we’re not dealing with simple math. At best this is algebra. Algebra is a place where powers and parentheses carry the same weight, if not more, than the numbers; and yet they never looked like that to me. For this reason, I stink at algebra. For this reason, we stink in discussing and disagreeing about politics. We are not truthfully acknowledging the ways that we are weighting and valuing things. Let’s talk about a few of those things.

Abortion. Immigration. Healthcare. Non-discriminatory policies. Those are some of the numbers. Taxes. Retirement. Criminal justice reform. Labor reform. Those are some of the powers and the parentheses. Here’s the moment: some of you think the stuff in the first group should be in the second group. Others of you believe it should be the opposite, and you probably would argue that I left far too many out – or included too many.

Some of you who argue that we should always vote republican would not be so adamant if their party tax structure were different. Many that vociferously push democrat votes might not be so forceful if their platform wasn’t as pro-labor as it is.

If you’re still reading hang in there, we’re about to wreck this train. Remember the kingdom we’re called to live in is a kingdom that’s not of this world. In other words, it’s a kingdom not measured by might, accumulation, or intimidation. It’s a subversive kingdom. It’s a kingdom made up of service. A kingdom where the least are greatest and we value the humble more than the powerful. A kingdom where the right hand doesn’t know how much the left hand has given away. A kingdom where we wake up every day and have to subvert ourselves all over again, because in our idleness our selfish personhood is seeking to make it about us all over again. A kingdom where a candle signifies its ability and power.

So parents, if you look at your kids and all you see is a vote; you’re missing it. Kids, the same. Before you allow your absolute desire to be right to divide you all take a moment; serve together, worship together, and if you still want to duke it out; be silent together.

After all, it was a silent night that ushered our Savior into the world. Peace on earth, good will to all men.

Addendum

  1. Read David Platt’s Before You Vote. It’s a quick read and the opening essay which deals with Platt’s response to then-president Trump’s request to be publicly prayed for at the conclusion of one of his church services, and the subsequent firestorm that followed, is a wakeup call for how much we have to grow in grace towards others. Especially others who think and believe differently than we do. Given by Tim Harding. It’s a book that he has read and highly recommends. After reading it, I would certainly recommend investing the few hours into reading it for yourself. You won’t agree with everything, or maybe anything that Platt says, but you’ll have spent a few hours not fuming over your family member.
  • If you can’t apply the behaviors of 1 Corinthians 13 to your discussion, then we have a problem, and we should hit the pause button on political discussions in our personal lives. Especially if it is a family member that we are willing to treat without love for the sake of being correct. If we can’t do it with love, as a believer, especially with those close to us, then we must address ourselves. Given by David Lee, although I may have reworded it a little stronger. The gist of David’s statement was frustration with those who seem to think that there are certain conversations that can be held; devoid of love, and we still expect God to choose or reward our side or our viewpoint.
  • There are no apples to apples comparisons in politics, but many of you violated the firmly held beliefs and convictions of your parents and grandparents many years ago when you began to vote. I’ll not argue over the importance of any vote or election but there is yet to be an election in my lifetime that was not more important than all of the previous elections. Remember this when you think your children are betraying some sort of sacred trust. Given by Will Stewart. This is a direct reference to the fact that prior to Ronald Reagan the South was primarily Democrat. Many parents and grandparents felt their children were betraying a sacred trust by choosing to align themselves with the enemy. Politics really can be complicated.  

Today’s Carol

This should have originally posted on Sunday, December 20.

The song, O Holy Night, has at its birth one of the unique stories of Christmas. Originally a French hymn it was written to celebrate the renovation of an organ. The poem was written by a man who claimed to be an atheist, Placide Cappeau, a known poet in his hometown.

Later, while translating into English, the Unitarian minister; John S Dwight, decided to take some translating freedom and brought to the forefront a recurring theme of 1855.

The first set of lyrics is the literal English translation. The second set is John Dwights lively and convicting translation.

The Redeemer has broken every bond

The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.

He sees a brother where there was only a slave,

Love unites those whom iron had chained.

Who will tell Him of our gratitude,

For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.

   People, stand up! Sing of your deliverance,

   Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,

   Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

Truly he taught us to love one another;

His law is love and his gospel is peace.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,

And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;

Let all within us praise his holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise his name forever!

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

An avowed unbeliever in God and a lover of music who knew Gods love for all of mankind, came together to pen these words;

His love is love and his gospel is peace

Enjoy this wonderful hymn and check out more amazing facts about this well enveloped carol at Hymnary.org.

A Daily Christmas

In just a few short days Christmas, the day, the holiday, will be here. Gifts will be open and discarded. Items will be broken, unwanted, and returned. We will discuss Christmas ‘being over’ and comment on whether or not we should sing carols in church this Sunday.

Christmas as the celebration of Jesus’ coming to earth is just getting started. The celebration of his ongoing presence, his desire to have a relationship with us, and his service to others is just the beginning. The expectation of Christmas can fill our hearts and inspire us year round.

It is my prayer that in the hustle of this time of year that you have been reminded that gifts are wonderful, but God has come to live with man. I pray that you will experience happiness, bit more than momentary happiness that you will Wake each day with the sense of Gods abiding and presence.

I pray that as gifts are given and received that a sense of wonder – a realization that God is at work – would begin to slip into your life and as December 25 comes and goes that the wonder of each day would seem like it’s Christmas has come to stay.

What Expectation Looks Like

From Day 1 of writing these thoughts and devotions the scenes that we will look at today have been ever present in my mind. Two older people, their lives seemingly behind them, and yet they are hanging out in the Temple.

Life, hope, and mercy are the themes on their mind. I often find my mind clogged with self righteous judgments of others. Clogged with complaints about how every one else is doing it wrong.

The overarching theme from Simeon and Anna is that God has something special prepared. There is more to come. This more, this expectation, is revealed in the person of the child Jesus. They aren’t hanging around wishing for the ‘good old days’ – they are waiting to prophesy.

How would my life look if I got up with the intent that today might be a day of prophecy? How would I speak to others if I truly believed they were made in the image of God? What might my speech sound like if I really believed that I shouldn’t prevent the youngest of children from approaching Jesus?

Our lives are either marked by expectation of Gods ability or they are marked by self dependence. Christmas is about the reality and hope of Gods presence.

Time and Energy

What matters? What lasts? What defines us? These are questions that to some extent we have all probably asked ourselves at some time or another. Our answers are varied. They are, however, revealed in the actions and choices that we make.

Every generation, every subgroup of each generation will all attempt to answer the above questions. We have a strong fallacy though in that we often attempt to answer those types of questions in light of our current circumstances. Several hundred years before Jesus’ birth a prophet summed it up in this way; do justice (act fairly), love mercy (care for others), and walk in humility before God.

Jesus’ way of answering that question can be found in a few different places and he sums it up with this phrase; love God completely, and love your neighbor as yourself. The word love there is not describing an emotion that is independent of everything else, but rather a pattern of behavior that reveals what we value. Embrace God; his presence, his goodness and his authority. Embrace your neighbor; their intrinsic value, their reflection of Gods image, and our need for each and every one of them.

This was the lifestyle of the mysterious Magi. More than one man had lent themselves to a belief in a God who was able to order the planets and stars. They were willing to bet their life on this. More than one man believed in their love for fellow man that they were willing to risk life and luxury for the opportunity to welcome a new baby to the world.

May we be such people.

Wonder and Time

Babies are an incredible gift from God. Their smiles and interactions with us endear them to most people they encounter. They are also weak and in need of constant care and attention. Whatever you may know of them I can promise you this; babies are a lot of work.

You do not get a break from them. They do not all of a sudden become able to care for themselves, nor do they take regular scheduled breaks from their demands and needs of life. They constantly need to be fed, comforted, reassured, and of course; the diaper changing can seem never ending.

Jesus was this kind of baby. The kind of baby that cried when he was hungry. The kind of baby that needed reassurance and comfort. The kind of baby that wanted his mother sometimes and his father sometimes. The kind of baby that probably was reassured and comforted when he walked outside, but was fussy while sitting inside.

This is hard for us to comprehend and for that reason we generally avoid these types of discussions. However, when we think of the Expectation that the birth of Jesus brought there is much for us to learn when it comes to considering Jesus as a baby.

Did he touch something hot? Probably. Was this because he didn’t listen to his mother or is it a result of the inquisitive and learning nature that God has placed within us?

Did he fall from a tree: stub his toe and fall while running over uneven ground; drop something that was too heavy for him and break it? Probably. Probably. Probably. We know that these are possibilities because these are things that babies do. They do them because as they grow into the world they begin to examine the world and experience it for themselves.

As we begin to imagine Jesus examining the world from the perspective of a baby I want us to think of two things that will challenge us in our Expectation of Christmas.

I want us to think of the wonder that he felt the first time he grabbed a handful of dirt. Think of the delight in his eyes the first time he saw Joseph light a candle in a dark room. Imagine his laughter when his feet touched the water of the creek that he bathed in with his family. These things are not hard to do because we have all seen babies and small children experience these and many more magical moments. Wonder is at the core of all of them. Wonder at what they feel and experience, what they see and hear, and the magic that seems to circle around them. God has created us to experience this world with the same such wonder. It is why we are born to develop and not fully settled in our experiences and realities.

You are created for wonder. To embrace and enjoy what surrounds us. To marvel at others; their experiences and passions, and their abilities. To marvel at ourselves; our experiences, passions and abilities.

The second challenge is how we think and feel about time. I don’t know if there is a faster slow experience than watching a child grow up. As a parent of two adult children I can attest to how long it takes them to so quickly become adults. A phrase that I’ve read; the days are long and the years are fast, sums up well the reality of children.

The world demanded change. The world seems to seethe with the necessity of instancy, and yet God grew, as a child. The shepherds went and worshipped – and then went back to their flocks. The ladies and family who probably assisted Mary and Joseph on this night would have smiled and cooed over the precious baby – and then returned home to the pressing needs of their own family. Yet, God had appeared. The world is being made right. The Kingdom of God was present and coming.

Wherever you are and whatever your reality as you await this Christmas, be it with dread or with joy, these two realities can become yours. Allow yourself opportunities for wonder. Step outside if you are able, and watch the night sky. If you are not able, some of that same wonder can still be transmitted through electronic screens as you watch nature in the glory in which God created all things. Let go of some of your time. Don’t schedule yourself into oblivion. Stop demanding that the world come to fit at your table and fully embrace the moments and time that God has gifted us with in allowing us to live in this world he has created.

Christmas is coming.

%d bloggers like this: