Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of God our heavenly parent, and from the Lord, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Many people have a complex combination of emotions at this time of the year, and more broadly at this time of our history. We can just as easily tell stories of vitality and encouragement as we can stories of challenge and struggle. As we think about this year, we may reflect on a year that has been full, stressful, and exhausting. As the frenzy of the holiday swirls around us, we are aching for moments of peace and restoration. The mention of ‘waiting’ for some brings up dread, grief and loss as memories of shattered dreams, un-met goals or unrealized potential rush to the front of the line. We can find plenty of evidence of struggle and hardship, and we ache for more evidence of joy and life.
It is into this complicated combination of emotions and experiences that the message of the Christ-child is announced. In this unassuming little baby, the Light of the world takes on flesh and dwells among a chaotic, crisis-hungry, tension-filled humanity. Christ comes to our aching and longing. Christ comes into our frustration and discouragement. Christ comes into the world and teaches us how to live, and in Jesus we see—as the songwriter says—God here, by our side, walking our way (ELW 725). In a world that thrives on frenzy and festivity, the presence of Christ calls us into stillness and wonder—an invitation to a deeper and more spacious place of transformation.
Dear friends, whether your holiday season is more frenzy than fun, or whether your life feels more chaotic than calm, I pray that you will experience Christ with you, walking your way. May the light of Christ, that shines into the darkness, fill you and keep you in God’s grace.