Thursday, December 15, 2016

This Sunday @ Locust Hill UMC::: All I Want for Christmas Week 4

Part of being a human means that we will have difficulties in this life. Some of the difficulties we prepare for and some are surprises. Also part of this human condition is how we deal with these difficulties in our lives. We react to our difficulties by getting stressed, scared, anxious, angry, cynical, numb, bitter, blame. Some of our difficulties we will cause while we will be the helpless victims of someone else's human condition. 

This isn't rocket science and it also isn't something that we weren't aware of already. What is surprising is that very few (even the most Christian among us) have managed to break the cycle. 

The news of Mary being with child to Joseph was NOT great news... it was a problem. A problem that probably would have made Joseph scared and anxious. The way he was going to deal with it was to wash his hands of whole thing. Joseph consumed with how this problem might make him look so he resolves to send Mary off quietly. 

Isn't that how we would like to deal with our problems? We would just wish to send them away? God never promises to rid ourselves of our difficulty. God isn't going to pay that credit card bill... sorry. Before Joseph can follow through his reaction an Angel intervenes. The angel reminds him that his perceived difficulty is the foundry for which God wants to work through his life. 

So often our energies are consumed by stress on each crisis (large or small) that incapacitate us from seeing the places for which God is at work. Joseph is given a task in this birth narrative. This task is to name Jesus. What if that was our task in the midst of our difficulties? Instead of being anxious (which is a very difficult task) we instead refocus our energies and name where God is at work in our difficulty. Name where God is standing by us. Name where the body of Christ is rallying around us. 

The Advent season is an intervention. It isn't about preparing ourselves so that we wont have difficulties. No it is about preparing our hearts so that when we do have difficulties we are able to see with much clarity how God is working in and through us.  We are going to get through whatever we are facing. Although we as humans are prone to being discouraged in face of our own difficulties... God is not and maybe that is profound beauty in this Advent season that God is with  us.