It’s the Christmas season.  The weather outside in southern California is not too frightful, but it recently brought a sickness to our home where words like “sore throat,” “phlegm” and “vitamins” were part of our daily vocabulary.

And wouldn’t you know, my schedule was quite busy, where there was enough to do that a day off, while probably needed, was not that easy to come by.  And so the choice was to either push through on my own strength or to admit my inability to do it on my own.   And it’s always easier to do one over the other.

This was also Peter’s journey.  As the Lord called Him to climb out of the boat and walk on water, Peter was faced with a similar situation—to admit that he could not do the seemingly incredible task on his own.  And so he stayed afloat as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus.

In this busy Christmas season, we, too, have the invitation from Jesus to rely on Him in our own lives’ situations that seem all too ominous, to keep our eyes focused on Him and remember that we cannot do it on our own.  As we follow Jesus, may we remember that He goes before us as He did for His disciples into Galilee, and look for His presence at this busy time of year, keeping our eyes fixed on Him and admitting to ourselves, and to others, where we could use their help, want their assistance, and need their grace.

Christmas, Fear and The Abominable Snowman

Ebay’s done it.  Toys “R” Us, too.  Count Target in as well.  What am I talking about?   Well, it’s the first week of November.  This week marks the beginning of Christmas sales.

Today, at many a shopping center near you, workers will finish their packing up of leftover Halloween candy and getting out Christmas wrapping paper, increasing their stock of toys for the kiddoes and beginning to play cheesy-yet-nostalgic Christmas tunes over the PA system (like “Ho, ho, ho!  Ho, ho, ho!  We are Santa’s elves!”—and if you can tell me the rest of this tune, you’re a rock star. Anyone?).

While Christmas does seem to get off to a start earlier each year, I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate a holiday that is indeed worthy of lots of celebration.  So, with this in mind, it was a treat to be with some friends recently in a passage in Luke 1.  In the passage, which takes place 9 months before that original, first Christmas, we find Mary the mother of God approached by the angel Gabriel.

Gabriel tells Mary that she had found favor with God (see more of the passage here).  My friends replied that their first response would have been, “Uh-oh.”  What had Mary done that God had noticed her?  What did He want of her?  Oftentimes, in the clash of our desire to serve God and maintain our own security, we respond similarly.  Uh-oh, God.  You want me to do what?  Isn’t there someone else for the job that you could pick?

Yet, I respond this way because I forget the rest of the passage and the rest of the things the angel told Mary.  Reading on, the passage continues to say that the child Mary will bring forth “will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).

Really?  But, God, You must be wrong!?  My internal tension to trust God and His goodness while balancing my own fears is strong.  Yet, Gabriel tells Mary that things would be good.  A new kingdom would be established through her—one that continues to this day—that would reestablish the plan God originally intended for humanity.  Is there anything else to fear?   May your fears and mine cease and be seized in our continued reflection that God’s plan is good and attainable.