Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Third Week in Advent - Joy

So, last week I said the topic for the week was 'waiting' when in actuality, it should have been 'joy'. Obviously, I needed to talk about waiting....

Anyway - I'll write about Joy this week and Love for next week.

Joy is very different from happiness. We always want to be 'happy' but happiness is a very fleeting emotion. It is dependent upon outside forces. We are 'happy' if our kids behave well or our spouse is generous to us. We are happy if our presentation at work goes well or if dinner turns out great. But what if none of these things happen? Are we doomed to go through life being unhappy because the people around us are not catering to us every moment of every day?

That would be a pretty horrible existence.

Joy, on the other hand has nothing to do with what is going on around us. Joy is not dependent on whether or not our kids behave or our spouse showers us with affection. Joy has to do with with God and how his love for us affects us. We can always have joy, no matter what our circumstances, because we know that God is with us. We can be joyful even in the midst of grief or terrible adversity because we know that God loves us with a fierce, strong love that we cannot even completely comprehend. We can be joyful even when it feels as if the entire world is against us because we know that God is for us.

Joy, comes from knowing that no matter what we go through in this life, we will have an eternity in heaven and that always tips the scale in our favor.

Have a wonderful, joy-filled Christmas.


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 5:13


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Third Week In Advent - Waiting

The topic for this week of Advent is sort of a bummer - after all no one likes waiting, right? We all like to get what we want when we want it. Unfortunately, much of life is about waiting. When we are kids we can't wait to grow up. When we are adults we can't wait to acheive our next goal - the bigger house, the better job, the corner office, etc... And then there all all those family things we are waiting for: waiting to have kids, waiting for those same kids to grow up and move out, waiting to retire and live the 'good' life.

We are waiting for so many things that often we miss out on much of what life has to offer to us. We get so focused on the future, that we forget to live in the present - and our lives are happening, now, in the present.

Somehow we have to figure out how to wait for what will come, while being present in this moment now. It is a hard thing to do. I know, because I am a checklist kind of gal. I zoom through this life checking things off of my list so I can get to the next thing. Unfortunately, I have noticed lately that while I am checking off laundry, cleaning, and cooking dinner, my son is waiting for me to play with him and I keep telling him "later". But by the time I do everything that has to be done, there is no "later" because it is time for him to go to bed.

I think the concept of "waiting" is very different for God than it is for us. God "waits" for the right moment to intercede in our lives. We sit around "waiting" for that moment. God's waiting has an active quality to it while ours feels mostly passive.

What if we could switch our idea of waiting to be an active one? What if instead of waiting for things to happen to us, we lived in the moment while we anticipated what God might do through us and through those around us?

The most anticipated even in the history of the world was the coming of the Messiah. While Israel waited for the messiah, however, they didn't stop living. They lived each day with anticipation. Now that Jesus has come, those of us who believe him to be the messiah don't stop living with anticpation either. We continue to live with anticipation because we know that God is actively waiting for the right moment to intervene in our lives.

Live life each day in the present - making sure you see what is right in front of you instead of looking too far down the road for too long. I believe that God acts in the present and if we focus too much on the future, we miss his intervention in our lives.
'o come o come Emanuel, and ransmom captive Israel'


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Second Week in Advent - Peace

Most of us need peace in our lives. It doesn't really matter what age or time of life you are in, we all could use a little more peace. We need respite from the frantic pace of life with young children, or the constant battling with our tweens and teens. We need a break from financial worries, job stress, the pressure to fit into the mold, the constant buzz in the back of our minds that something else has to be accomplished before we can rest.

We need some peace and we often have no idea how to get it. In Hebrew the word for peace is shalom and it means to be in a state that is free of disturbance - both inward disturbance (like anxiety or fear) and outward disturbance (like war).

I often think that the amount of peace someone has is in direct correlation to their ability to let things go. In other words, the more you feel responsible for the lives of everyone around you, the less peace you will have. Conversely, the more you can separate yourself from the failures and successes of the people in your life and hold your own successes and failures lightly, the more peace you will have.

I had an epiphany earlier this year when a friend of mine commented to me that "neither of us were the kind of people to hold things lightly." It was so simple but it was like I was hit by a lightening bolt. I immediately thought - "Oh yeah - that is my problem." I never feel at peace because I never let anything just be what it is. I always have to try to change it or make it better or worry about it. I never just let things 'be'.

That is not to say that we are never supposed to work towards goals, or help our family and friends. We are supposed to do those things. But we are also supposed to hold all things in this life loosely because they are not ours. They are God's. Our children and their mistakes (and our mistakes in parenting them), we can give to God. Our job stress, financial worries, marital troubles - all these things we can give to God because he is big enough to handle them.

Maybe even in the simple act of letting some control go, we will find a better and easier ways to get where we want to go. We will at least be able to have a better view of what is important and what is not.

Jesus came to give us peace - not peace that the world gives to us, but the peace of God which we cannot get any other way.

As we prepare to approach the new born Christ who brings peace to the world, maybe we should think about ways in which we will allow ourselves to accept that gift of Peace.


"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27