December 16, 2020
“We cannot do all that we want, but we are seeking to do all that we can as best we can.”
This approach to our church life was so beautifully displayed this past Sunday afternoon by our brothers and sisters who serve in our ministry of music. It had to be scaled back in presentation, but it was not scaled back in message, focus, intensity, or joy. Thank you to Marty, Josh, Nathan, Denise, and all who put so much into that. If you have not had a chance to view it, click the link here.
Perhaps this year, we have a higher level of understanding of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ. Joseph and Mary had their lives upended by the unanticipated news that Mary was pregnant, and not just pregnant, but pregnant before marriage and the normal means of conception. Not only that, but then, at the most inopportune time of her pregnancy, a decree was issued that required them to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This turned everything upside down. Having a major medical issue (like giving birth), in the middle of such upheaval is only compounded by the fact that Joseph and Mary were poor. The census and tax by Rome would have been heavy, and whatever provisions Joseph had been trying to put aside for his new family would have taken a major hit.
In hindsight, we don’t see a fearful mother and stressed father. We see angels singing, shepherds rejoicing, Mary treasuring, Magi traveling, worshiping, and giving gifts that would have more than paid for the necessary trip to Egypt and back. In the moment, I am not sure they were singing Silent Night, all is calm and bright. But the truth was, it really was. God was there. When God is there, you can be calm.
This has been a good truth for me to hold on to. I had a surgical procedure on Monday that went well, but my recovery has been rough. Like so many of you, it is one more unanticipated bend in the road. What do we do? Panic? Sulk? No, we accept the gifts from God as readily as we accept the challenges, knowing that, like the birth of Christ, many of the gifts of God come disguised as challenges. With every challenge comes particular grace that is well-timed for that moment of need. It is ours. God has come. We can be calm.
As I left the hospital last night, my nurse was expressing her sympathy for my troubles. I told her that it is to be expected in this life, but it will not be in the life to come. That is what Christ secured for us. All really is calm.
Grace and peace,