I really wanted this shirt. To… get it. Or… what’s the word? Obtain? Anyway, I liked it and wanted to… own it. My birthday is soon. And some other holiday.
“Acquire peace.” It sounds all mystical and cool, but there was something that didn’t feel righteous about it. “Acquire a peaceful spirit,” says holy fascinating Seraphim of Sarov, “and around you thousands will be saved.” But that’s self-centered, right? If I really care about people, or the world, then I don’t acquire anything, right? I just give and give and give and never think about what I need or want. Right?
As soon as I feel like it, that’s how I’m going to do it, because I just have this sense that it’s what God wants. Sacrifice! Suffering! At least raise awareness about somebody else doing something for someone. Selfish hermits.
Anyway, I had something like that running through my head. I almost tweeted about it. You probably remember.
I’ve had more time to think. I noticed a few things. I might need to try something else. Maybe the strategy of me getting peace once I’ve made sure everyone else is comfortable sounded like “Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between,” but it was really a fine way to put off cleaning house by pointing out what a mess the neighbors were in. We can get to my stuff later.
The truth is, I don’t want to go in there. Nobody should have to go in there. Have you ever tried helping someone from this position? “Hey, this hasn’t really worked for me, but, here, you try it. It’s really good.”
“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.”
So, what would that look like? What a great time to ask.
Messenger: Greetings! You are favored, and the Lord is with you! Among all women on the earth, you have been blessed.
The heavenly messenger’s words baffled Mary, and she wondered what type of greeting this was.
Messenger: Mary, don’t be afraid. You have found favor with God. Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him “Savior,” or Jesus. Jesus will become the greatest among men. He will be known as the Son of the Highest God. God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over the covenant family of Jacob forever.
Mary: But I have never been with a man. How can this be possible?
Messenger: The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The Most High will overshadow you. That’s why this holy child will be known, as not just your son, but also as the Son of God. It sounds impossible, but listen….the impossible is possible with God.
Mary (deciding in her heart): Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me.
And the heavenly messenger was gone.
Mary: My soul lifts up the Lord!
My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!
For though I’m God’s humble servant,
God has noticed me.
Now and forever,
I will be considered blessed by all generations.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
holy is God’s name!
From generation to generation,
God’s lovingkindness endures
for those who revere Him.
God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
The proud in mind and heart,
God has sent away in disarray.
The rulers from their high positions of power,
God has brought down low.
And those who were humble and lowly,
God has elevated with dignity.
The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.
To Israel, God’s servant,
God has given help,
As promised to our ancestors,
remembering Abraham and his descendants in mercy forever.
In this season of God who comes to us and who is coming again, we are reminded that he enters the willing life. Not the ready life; not the accomplished life; not the elevated life; God comes to and for the low, the humble, the hungry. And as they are restored, the world is being restored. The promises are being fulfilled – one “yes” at a time.
May we decide in our hearts, as we sing:
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.
May those around us, and we ourselves, be saved as the strife of our own spirit is overcome by the Spirit of peace this season promises. May we find the impossibilities within and without us changed as God born in us brings the reality of God’s Kingdom into a thousand encounters.
Happy Christmas, my joys. God’s peace to you, as much as I have received. And let it be to me, as well, for the sake of us all.