As I write this, I am preparing to head to the Chicago area, where I look forward to spending time with extended family for Christmas, including four beautiful grandchildren (ages 3 and under). I can hardly wait!
Waiting. It’s always so very hard to do. And this advent season has been especially difficult for many reasons. The political landscape in our country is alarming to me; I believe that the more ignoble parts of our human nature have been emboldened by the statements, and then the success, of the U.S. president-elect. And it’s not just the U.S.; the bad news seems to keep on coming, with no end in sight. End-times language comes to mind to try to describe it: wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famine. . .
Much closer to home are dear loved ones who face difficult, almost overwhelming challenges that are hard for me to even imagine. Carrying such burdens so close to Christmas makes the loss and grief even harder to bear. At the same time, in my work with Safe Church Ministry we’re dealing with situations that no individual or congregation should ever have to face. How can people, even church leaders, treat one another so shamefully, while praying together, “Our Father, hallowed be your Name”? Lord, my prayers echo the words of Revelation 22:20, “Come Lord Jesus.” Please, come soon!
And yet, you have already come! And you have promised to be with me during this time of waiting for your second coming—that great day, when you will right all wrongs and wipe away all tears. I am not alone while I wait; Immanuel, God is with me. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Throughout the Christmas story, at every angel visitation, I hear or read the words, “Fear Not!” Those words are also for me today. Your promise is sure, you are with me, and therein lies my hope. Therefore, I can rejoice even in the midst of it all; light has come down into darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it, not ever.
If I look carefully, I can see you, right here and right now. Like the “I spy” game I’ll play with my 3-year-old granddaughter, if I take time to look carefully, I can see. Please open my spiritual eyes. Then I will be able to see you, notice your very presence in a loving word, an unexpected outcome, a kind gesture, unexplained resources that simply appear, or a definite answer to prayer; YOU are here! Lord, this is my prayer, that you would open the spiritual eyes of your people, that we may see you in our midst, and rejoice.
Best wishes for peace and joy, celebrating Immanuel, God with us, this Christmas.