Pastor's Reflection for weekend of Dec. 2/3 – (Mark 13: 33-37)
Years ago I remember reading two letters from children in a book entitled something like: ‘Children’s letters to God!’ Both are very appropriate as we begin the season of Advent.
The first letter was: ‘Dear God – This was the best Christmas I ever had - I got nothing that I needed'’ and the second one was: ‘Dear God – could you put something between Christmas and Easter. There’s nothing good there right now!’
Both show us a great deal: One is happy with what he has right now and the other child can’t wait until something else comes along. Both set the tone for Advent.
So much anticipation is in our lives right now – especially in children. There are dates we want to have things done by, baking, shopping, wrapping, Christmas cards – they all have their deadlines. We often panic, get upset, frustrated, we take our frustrations out on others. Basically, we are terrible at waiting. We live with fast foods, instant messages, on-line banking, we can get things delivered overnight, we avoid shopping with on-line buying. And then we move on with these frustrations awaiting something else.
In this culture how do we wait for God! How do we prepare and wait for the coming of God into our lives, which is what Advent/Christmas is about more than the birth of Jesus. It is not just Christmas but God is in our lives every day!
We are doing something different here at St. John’s this year and I might suggest you try it with your families, your children, your spouse, individually. To help get that awareness that God is present every day in our lives and not just at Christmas, that He comes every day among us you might try the following.
Put your crib up immediately. But don’t put the straw in the manger nor use the straw you have. But where will the straw come from – and that is a great question! It will come from you. Give everyone in the family a piece of paper with about 7-8 strips on it. Every time you felt the presence of God in your life write it down on one of those strips. It might be when you experienced hope or gave hope to others – write it down on the strip of paper. Or when you experienced God in your midst; you asked for forgiveness or you forgave someone; you were overwhelmed with gratitude for something or someone; you found yourself reaching out to another; you saw someone do a kind act for you or assisted you in your efforts throughout the day; you felt close to God in prayer; you cried and felt you weren’t alone – God was with you; you didn’t have to wait in line – or you did but you were patient because it is more important than our little desires of life.
Your manger might get messy with the strips of paper being the straw – but that’s ok because that’s what Advent/Christmas is all about – God came into our lives to share His love and forgiveness with us in all of our messiness and that presence of God is in our lives every day throughout the year. In a sense, get excited about your messiness because God brings healing to it through His coming into our lives each and every day.
We are doing this as a parish praying community and parishioners will be providing the straw for our manger in the sanctuary with their pieces of paper. I can’t wait to see all the papers and the messiness of it – because that is what God came into our lives to love and forgive.
I hope it all works out for you and your family – yes, it will be a messy manger in your house but it also reminds us how God – in all that messiness – is with us always. Have a great Advent/Christmas season, everyone.