From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 4th Sunday of Advent

Hi everyone,

We were never ones to teach our kids about Santa Claus and have them write letters to him or anything like that. I always assumed that our kids just didn’t care that much, and I’ve even heard them say (to each other) that they know Santa isn’t real. But last year, they wanted to put out milk and cookies for Santa. And this year, they actually wrote letters.

No harm in it, I suppose. It gives them something to look forward to. But the thing I found really funny was how our daughter wrote in her letter, “I was really good this year”…

I mean, I’m not saying she was bad this year by any means, but she didn’t cure cancer or anything (not in real life, at least… she can have a vivid imagination). She didn’t feed the hungry (well, she did share her candy with me a couple times). She most certainly didn’t help in the production 30-40 online worship videos (but she did provide some fodder for these blog posts). So was she good enough to deserve the things she asked for?

Well, she just asked for a doll, so I guess that’s an easy yes. But some of the other things she asks for during the year are whoppers. Like when she asked for a really big Play-Doh set. Or that Barbie castle. Or that trip to Europe somewhere to go on some waterslide. Yikes.

But, if I were honest, if I had the money I would get her all those things, good or not. To me, and I suspect this to be true for many parents, she deserves anything I can give to her simply because she is my child. But I guess it’s just lucky for me (and unlucky for her) that I can’t afford very much at all. At least, that is what I tell her on a regular basis.

These are the readings for next week:
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Luke 1:46b-55 (this is actually the Psalm for this week)
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

So this close to Christmas, we get a bunch of readings talking about what we deserve. Or perhaps, what we don’t deserve. It appears that God keeps none of that in mind, but simply acts. So whether your high and mighty prestigious King David, or lowly poor nobody Mary, God graciously and lovingly gives, provides, and continues to be present.

This is especially important to know at this time of year in this year, when so many are disappointed with how Christmas will be celebrated. Let’s not forget that Christmas, or at least the joy of Christmas, is a gift. It isn’t something that we’ve earned or somehow deserve, but it is just given to us simply because we are children of God.

This doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to be sad or lament that this Christmas will be different, but it is to say that this is only temporary, and that the joy of the season can still be here if we remember what the source of that joy is. While things like presents, family get togethers, and travel do bring joy, the joy of this season is from God and the gift of God’s presence among us.

For some, this would be a very distant second to the aforementioned joy-givers. But let’s not forget that this gift isn’t one that is given because we’ve been good. It isn’t one that is given because we deserve it. But it is given because we are completely, absolutely, and dearly loved. And this bit of fact just adds to that joy.

So wherever this holiday season might lead you, may it be filled with the joy of God, giving us the hope in God’s love, and empowering us with the peace that surpasses understanding. Thanks be to God!

Have a great week, everyone!

Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

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