Fill your heart with a willingness to move forwardPublished 9:24am Friday, December 28, 2012
Column: Across the Pastor’s Desk, by the Rev. Daphne Hamborg, Bear Lake Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church
Although I write this a few days before Christmas, and I am still anticipating a special worship service, a children’s Christmas program and vacation time with family and friends, I know this article won’t be published until shortly after Christmas. Things will have changed by then for many of us.
Depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the days after Christmas can be fun, or they can be very challenging. We might still be enjoying time with people and traditions that are special to us — or we might be feeling a post-holiday emptiness — or we might be simply be relieved that Christmas is over and we can settle down again for another year.
An important question, however, is this: what would Jesus have us do with these days? Perhaps an even more important question: how can we live with a sense of God’s grace?
In the days before Christmas, I read a pretty simple, straight-forward mystery by a woman named Anne Perry. It was called “A Christmas Guest.” In this book, an elderly woman finds, to her own amazement, that she is investigating the death of a new acquaintance — a woman who died just a few days before Christmas. As the holiday draws nearer, Grandmama Mariah Ellison is sleuthing — as well as pondering the religious significance of the holiday.
As I read, I came across a line that I especially appreciated, about the power and mystery of Christmas: “Death does not alter Christmas. In fact, Christmas is the very time when it means the least. It is the season in which we celebrate the knowledge of eternity, and the mercy of God.”
If you simply and cleanly enjoy the leftover glow of Christmas, savor it. If these days are more difficult, however, filled with weariness, or even pain, consider Grandmama Ellison’s insight. Just as Easter is filled with the mystery and promise of Christmas, so Christmas is filled with the fulfillment and joy of Easter. Our days are never simply about our own feelings, or our own struggles, no matter how powerful those might seem.
Instead, Christmas tells us this: our days are always filled with the presence of God. In the Gospel of Luke, an elderly man names Simeon recognizes that presence in Jesus. He says to God, “Now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” (Luke 2:29-30).
Let God use these post-Christmas days to fill your spirits and hearts with a willingness to move forward, entering a new year with an old assurance.