What a journey we have all been on over the last few years! Even this year, while we have moved beyond the pandemic, there have been other challenges – such as the economy or the policy changes needed to continue to move the church forward. As you may recall, at the beginning of the COVID-19 shuffle, so many changes were initially put in place – unwelcome. Many businesses were closed – restaurants, for instance, and limited hours for many other stores. Some services were deemed “essential,” and others were sent to work from home for an unknown time.
Then, as the country adjusted, businesses made options like online orders for groceries or food delivery more available. How much of an adjustment did Joseph and Mary make in their preparation for the trip to Bethlehem? Did Joseph and Mary have feelings of confusion or frustration while working through planning for their trip? After all, much like us navigating through uncertain or untimely changes, Joseph and Mary’s trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem was imposed upon them (by the Roman emperor)!
Joseph and Mary were leaving their family at a time when they might have been needed most – at the birth of their first child. How difficult traveling to Bethlehem at such a late time in her pregnancy must have seemed! It added risk and discomfort as well! Like Joseph and Mary, there are challenging situations in life. The situations may happen due to someone else’s decisions (loss of a job, business closing, or a loved one moving away), or the challenges may be regret for our actions or decisions. Dealing with these kinds of changes can lead to feeling sad or inadequate. And when we can redirect our attention to appreciate what is – God’s presence is more obvious and even palpable in our surroundings.
Most recently, I have seen God in:
A group of people pooling their funds to donate over 300 undergarments to a clothing wardrobe
A man offering to help load a suitcase for a stranger
In the beauty of a sunrise or the mountains
The dedication and love shared by several people serving in a food pantry
The love displayed in a shared meal with family
The offer of prayers before a pending surgery
The caring hands and actions of a wellness professional
Seeing God in our surroundings becomes significantly easier when actively seeking Him out!
As we look forward to the Advent season, the Christmas holiday and beyond, experiencing, seeing and sharing Christ and the hope He provides makes the Advent season so very special. How do you see Christ’s presence in your day-to-day life as you prepare for the holidays? As we anticipate the arrival of the Christ child, we all seek Christ’s presence around us.
Sharing that hope and love for Christ with others in our midst opens our hearts and minds to experience Christ in new ways. How can you help others on a difficult journey to see the love of Christ in their surroundings? Can you find a new way to support those in need during the Advent season?
May the hope and joy of the Advent season be infectious for you and your loved ones! Merry Christmas!