I am always excited at this time of the year. I enjoy the cooler days, the smell of baked goods and fireplaces, the kids’ excitement for Christmas, and all the other nice things that come with the season. At the same time it’s a stressful time of year with all the added pressures and expectations that come with The Holidays. We all get busy with planning, travelling, shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, wrapping, decorating, going to choir rehearsals, planning special services and pageants and parties. It is all worth it in the end, but still stressful and exhausting.
Then add to it all that we are living in truly stressful and even scary times! We need only turn on the news, grab a headline, or get on Facebook or Twitter to see and hear how angry, fightened, and bitterly divided people are in our country and in the world. There are National Security threats, political threats, threats to people’s human rights, awful violence, devastating natural disasters. It takes work to find stories and events that bring hope and a glimpse of peace in the world we are living in.
This recap doesn’t even include our own inner turmoil, our own experience of fear, sadness, worry, our feelings of being overwhelmed, our daily struggles. Again, all you have to do is get online or go to the self-help section of a bookstore to find the many suggestions and answers to finding calm and peace in ones life. Whether it’s prayer, meditation, watching funny movies, yoga, therapy, getting outside, or finding comfort talking with a loved one, so many methods, so much advice encourages us to cope with our own traumatized personalities and experiences in life. The many cures suggest the scope of the dis-ease.
During these challenging and stressful times, how do we find and experience peace at church? How do we be a church that helps us all and every one who walks in the door experience the peace and comfort that comes in God’s love and grace for all of us?
How do we make this a practice? How do we be a church that regularly practices kindness, forgiveness, patience, and understanding both with ourselves and each other? When we do this, we do better finding it outside in the political realm, in our work, in our school, walking down the street.
We cannot share peace, love, and kindness with others if we don’t experience and practice it with ourselves and all whom we encounter.
Our church experience should not be stressful. It is meant to be a place (both physical and communal) where everyone gets to experience something more powerful and comforting than anything in the outside world.
So, as we enter this busy season of Advent and experience the strain that often accompanies it, my hope for us all is that we look for and to what is most important, focusing on the hope and peace that comes with welcoming Jesus into our broken lives and the broken world we live in.
Blessings and Peace,