One of the gifts I received this season has been a series of Advent devotionals sent to me by Frank Klassen, a good friend and now pastor of Trinity Pacific Church. Written in collaboration with Jenn Baerg and Arlene Wu, the series began as a project for a Missional Leadership class at Regent College, where I also did my grad studies. Their intention was to combine “the themes of Advent with a desire for a missional presence of the Church in our world,” which I believe applies just as well on this second day of Christmas and every day.
So today I’m reprinting just one devotional by permission, with thanks to Frank, Jenn, and Arlene. It addresses the busyness of the pre-Christmas season, the busyness that challenges many of us year round. For more from them, please see their Daily Devotionals website. For now, please accept my sincere Christmas greetings, and may the presence of God in Christ Jesus bring you comfort and joy.
Source: A prayer by Walter Brueggemann:
Light from light.
Creation from chaos.
Life from death.
Joy from sorrow.
Hope from despair.
Peace from hate.
. . . .
Listen this day for the groans and yearnings of your world,
listen to our own songs of joy and our own drudges of death,
and in the midst of our stammering,
speak your clear word of life in the name of your word come flesh. Amen.
We cannot offer each other the same degree of radical love Jesus displayed to bring relationships into reconciliation and healing, but we can follow his example. Consider the people Jesus calls us to love, those who bear his image in our communities, the physically sick, the mentally ill, the homeless, the rude, the recluse, the neighbor who always takes and never gives and everyone else.
So often we respond to them without love, without even enough notice to give respect.
Consider responding with love this week as you’re stuck in ridiculously long lines and maybe even find yourself fighting for parking in a mall. As you seethe with all you have to do and all the poor judgments made by others, reframe one of those people as your Saviour in the flesh, just as he was in the flesh over two millennia’s ago.
He wasn’t much to look at in those moments, and I’m sure he didn’t seem very useful and Mary might even have struggled to love him in the nights of sleeplessness and tears, but he was and is our Saviour. That person you’re fuming about, even cursing at, is made in His image.
Consider pausing to thank Jesus for being in your presence through this person while asking for the grace to respect and even love this person. This action may be especially challenging if applied to a family member with whom you have tensions.
The love of Christ is radical, and radical does not mean easy or simple or without risks, but it does promise something greater than you could even imagine – just like the now imaginable: a Saviour come to us.
Choose one of the opening pairs from Walter Brueggemann’s prayer–“Light from light, Creation from chaos,” or one of the other pairs–and write your own Christmas prayer poem. Listen for that “clear word of life” spoken through the divine Word made flesh.
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