We are quickly approaching another Christmas and the end of another decade. How will this Christmas be different for us? Will we experience the warmth and joy that comes with Emmanuel, God with us? Will our hearts be changed as we again invite Christ to live in our hearts and influence the way we live and interact with the world around us?
This Advent season, we have followed a series of messages based upon a theme of “Almost Christmas.” We talk about peace, hope, love and joy this time of year. However, we may only experience almost peace, almost hope, almost love and almost joy. This happens when our peace is something we try to create rather than something we receive as God’s gift to us. It happens when our hope is a false hope that we think we can control. It happens when our love is only based upon our preferences. It happens when our joy is merely fleeting happiness.
Friends, one of the biggest challenges we face as Christians is living authentic lives. We are not called to pretend to be joyful all the time. Instead, we are called to reflect the light that lives within us as God’s Holy Spirit. It is difficult to keep ourselves available to the Holy Spirit to work through us because it requires tremendous trust. Trusting God for our health, our finances, our children, our marriages and all those we love is very hard. It requires patience. It requires persistence. Most importantly, it requires that we stay focused on a savior who was not attached to possessions, status, security, or safety. As 21st Century Americans, we can easily becomes slaves to our way of life, so that we sacrifice pursuing what God has in store for us in order to cling tightly to an illusion of control.
It is my prayer that our Advent journey helps us all to recalibrate our lives so that we give Christ our full attention and focus. The group of pastors I meet with Wednesdays is called the “Hokey-Pokey Pastors.” The name originated when the group formed several years ago. The name conveys the meaning that, just as the words of the hokey-pokey dance tell us, we must “put our whole selves in” if we are going to be a part of the dance. We must be honest, real, and focused. This is required in our relationships with each other and our relationship with Christ.
If we put our whole selves in a gift box to Christ this Christmas, we will experience more than an almost Christmas. We will experience the full heart transformation that can change us and the world around us. And that, as the song says, is what it is all about! – Pastor Steve Hart