34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
I am not exactly a Grinch, but I have to admit that Christmastime is not usually my favorite time of year, as it can leave me feeling a bit…worn out!
Advent is a time of preparation…of getting ready…the Holidays can be a hectic time of year…if we are lucky there are celebrations, and gathering with friends, church & school events, and of course the more practical aspects of decorating, shopping, etc…
As single parents being busy is nothing new to us…as our lives are usually pretty hectic any way! Many of us have sacrificed a lot for our children, and have done so willingly (and would do it again…and again); but this is not an easy road to take and (yes I know I am being arrogant here) it is not a path than just anyone would choose to follow – it does take a special person to be a single parent!
However, this does not mean we are saints…sometimes it just means that we have found a toughness and a strength within us, and a faith deeper than we ever knew we had! Being human, we can and do fall short of the glory of God, as well as our own hopes and expectations, and because of this we can also find the Holiday’s a difficult period, as they can put stress on already over-taxed finances, bring on pangs of sadness for people and relationships lost, as well as opportunities missed. This time of year can also make those who are feeling lonely even more alone, make more demands on a schedule that is already tight (both at work and at home), and it is also a time when we can run into more issues surrounding addiction…as this is a time of year when it seems like people are encouraged to over-indulge; which can have an impact of everyone involved: children, partners, ex’s, and our extended families as well!
With all the added stress and busy-ness of the season, it can be easy for us to lose sight of what Advent is all about…to forget that simple truth that Christmas itself is the gift…the calling of the light into the darkness of our world…the coming of hope where there was once hopelessness!
With the coming of hope, it is fitting that this time of year is a time of celebration, and that we share this celebration with the world…including those who are not Christians, as the good news of the Christmas story may be the first Gospel someone hears, and may be the story that lights of the spark of faith in a life made dark by worry, addiction, stress, or loneliness!
As children of God, we are called to share the Christmas message with the world, and of course, with our children…on a daily basis…all year long; and today’s Gospel reminds us to “keep our eyes on the prize”: the great gift of God’s love, given for ALL people!
When this gift is shared, it grows stronger, and the truth is made known: that the light which shines fills the manger on that bleak winter morning is the same light that radiates from the empty tomb in the garden on that quiet spring morning; that it is this light which has come to banish the darkness of sin and stress, fear and addiction, and promises us new a new life where we are free from these worries…freed to experience the true joy of living as well loved Children of God!
Therefore it is good that we find moments within these busy days, to stop and breathe, and experience this light in our own lives, as this is a gift given to us by God, and as The Grinch could tell you…this IS a gift that cannot be bought in any store…as it is a free gift, given out of God’s absolute love for us…the same kind of love that we share with our own children and loved ones on a daily basis!
Let Us Pray:
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us reasons to celebrate…and to share the joy of living in the light of Christ with each other. Help us not to let the busy-ness of the season overtake the beauty of your gift, nor let it cause us to forget that we are called to share your gift with the world (but not to beat them up with it). Help us to live in the spirit of the Christmas season all year long…remembering that the light of the manger is the same light that shines brightly on Easter morning, and that this IS a reason to celebrate…together!