Two years ago, the unexpected death of a close friend suddenly stripped the holiday season of trivialities that often consume my attention and energy. As I literally walked with his widow (she was my walking partner!) through those awful, and yet sublime weeks that followed, often repeated phrases that had become cliché in the usual craziness of holiday rituals began to ring with meaning:
Peace on Earth
In the darkness of nighttime and torrents of tears God aches to pull us to himself; those who do turn to that embrace find real, inexplicable peace on earth … not just a hoped for peace in heaven. My widowed friend often wrestled with grief, fear and regret. But when those things threatened to paralyze, she would stand, cup her hands and lift her anxieties to her Abba (Father). His presence would wrap her up and give her the courage to move ahead. People marveled at the dignity and peace they saw in her.
Good will Toward Men
Her late husband had fully believed in the goodwill of God towards him which empowered him to practice goodwill towards others. Both husband and wife had spent years mentoring emotionally needy families and especially attention starved children. The love and care that blanked his family after his passing provided powerful evidence of what happens when we recognize and receive God’s goodwill toward us.
A Child is Born; A Son is Given
It all starts in the tenderness of God who longs to be gracious toward us. His will is that none should perish from ignorance of His love and so he gave the world his Son … Deity incarnate; a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses through whom we may also receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus leads us away from rigid rules toward reassuring, empowering relationship with our embracing creator. We can love because He first loved us (1John 4:19).
My prayer is that we hear old clichés ringing with sublime silver bells of Truth this Christmas!
Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Ephesians 2:13-14a – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace …
1 John 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.