2 Samuel 7:1-16
It's Christmas Eve, my favorite day of the year. Even though for part of it I will be stuck in an office, doing routine stuff, my mind will be thinking about last-minute things I have to do (like pick up cat food -- or there won't be a Merry Christmas for my boys), dishes to do (my stocking should be as full as my sink!), and general tidying up to get ready for the Eve itself, when all is calm and all is bright.
Looking back on Advent, it's been a time to stop (or at least slow down) and listen, be awake, aware, and mindful, to be a light in the darkness even if it is only the light the size of a tea light or birthday candle, and to take time to think and meditate on what Advent means. It's been a time to listen to prophets from ancient times who still speak of problems we encounter today-- more than ever, it seems.
It's been a season of heart-wrenching events both natural and man-made. We have seen pictures of tiny children suffering and dying for any number of reasons, some of which we actually have the power to change. We've seen violence and mayhem, and heard the platitudes and mealy-mouthed sayings of those who seek to be our leaders. Unfortunately, much of what they say is divisive and actually abusive to those who are not precisely like them --male, white, and privileged. We have seen Christians persecuted in the Holy Land and the Middle East while Muslims are feeling persecuted here at home. Womens health issues have been curtailed in favor of protecting the unborn, never minding at all that the already born have needs too that have never been addressed. GLBTI folk are seeing more freedom in many states but in their individual homes, cities, and churches they are still reviled and shunned. Refugees are finding the welcome written on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal rings hollow with all the talk of higher walls, more legal barriers, and mass deportations. It seems the whole world is losing touch with what is good, kind and helpful.
This Christmas Eve, even if it is slightly inconvenient, we need to take a few minutes to remember the message the Prince of Peace came to bring -- love God, love your neighbor and even your enemy because he too is your neighbor. He told us to visit the sick and imprisoned and care for them as best we can. He told us to comfort the grieving, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of the widows and orphans and work to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth. It's a big order, but every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
My wish for all of you is to be blessed this Christmas and always, blessed with comfort, joy, peace, lack of want, and love for God and each other. I also wish that you find challenges in your life that will bring God closer, help those in need, and stretch your faith a bit.
Continue to be awake, alert, and listening. The prophets are still speaking and we should still be paying attention. Take time to love even those who are unlovable (we think) as we kneel in adoration of the Christ Child who, in the form of a tiny baby, represented the hope for all mankind. As God told Nathan in our reading, God will not withhold the steadfast love he had for David and the children of Israel. We just have to trust that and work to pass it on.
Have a blessed Christmas.