A nuance to nostalgia

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry because I continually make the same mistake in my spiritual journey – and it throws me off.  But it’s so easy to do!  Especially during the Christmas season.

Sadly, nostalgia is waning in this great country. But Christmas has remained a great theater for remembrances of the good ol’ days. Is that by your design? We are drawn to Christmas, perhaps subtly, by more than an excuse for extravagant spending. I think that maybe adults still have a child in them who desires, whether they know it or not, for these great gifts than only you can give to them.

Christmas Play 2009

Christmas Play 2009 (Photo credit: Paul J Everett)

As I’ve taught more than once, real peace isn’t the absence of war, it’s about being in a right relationship with you.  When we get that straight, the whole joy thing happens. Real joy.

But here’s the problem, Lord: I often allow my feelings to be the only barometer that informs me of how close you are.  Feelings are important.  The Bible often notes your emotions – love, anger, pleasure, compassion – so there must be something holy about them. However, the fallen side of me tends to let my emotions drive me instead of me driving my emotions. 

Jesus, there’s another gift I need to use even more than my emotions.

Faith is what informs me that you are there even when I feel like you’ve packed up and left.  When you said that you would will be with me always (Matthew 28:20) you didn’t qualify it by adding, “unless it doesn’t seem like I’m there.”  

I remember an Old Testament Class in college that identified the primary question of people throughout the Bible was whether or not God was with them.  So you pretty much hit the nail on the head by taking on the name Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Despite the pressure of people’s unbearable financial stress . . . Emmanuel.  In the face of turmoil in relationships . . . Emmanuel.  Even in the times when it feels like I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death . . . you are with me (Emmanuel!).

God, I have a hunch that when people long for nostalgia this time of year they are really searching for you.  However, the only gift they don’t open at Christmas is the only one they are really looking for – the only one that will give them true peace.  Your peace.

And I fall into that trap too, Savior.  Thank you for the gift of faith that informs me that you are really here, despite how it may seem, simply because you said that you would be.  Right now, that’s all I need to know.

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