The Message (MSG)
6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
Counting down the days to Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas always trigger energy, excitement and “busyness” in our home. The joy of generations gathering to enjoy time together and talk about nearly everything under the sun is wonderful. In preparation for these days, time passes and quiet time is missed and stress sets in. Finding a balance with all that plays through each day is so important. The above version of Matthew 6:6 gives such clear direction to finding God’s grace…and personal balance during a very busy time. It is worthy of a refrigerator magnet!
By connecting to that grace, we also have a wonderful opportunity to find an enriched time with others. Through grace, we can listen, share and love more fully. We find a connection that allows the busy, end of year days to be gifts to others and ourselves. Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares the value of solitude in making those precious connections:
Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected
to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core,
the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
May you find that place of grace and solitude so open each day to the joy of life through the end of the year and always.
I have a confession to make. I love Christmas. I love the lights on the Christmas tree. I love the stockings hung from the chimney (or wherever you can hang ‘em) with care. I love buying gifts for those I love. I’ve made an effort to blend the traditions of my and my husband’s families into something unique and special for our family.
This year feels different though. I have been struggling to get into the “Christmas spirit.” I haven’t felt much like celebrating and didn’t feel the same drive to decorate I have in years past. There is so much pain and hopelessness in the world right now that it makes it hard to celebrate.
But then I wonder, isn’t this season supposed to be about joy and wonder and most of all…hope? So, I cannot let the hopelessness overcome me. All of the things I love about Christmas – family, giving, kindness, hope, joy – are needed more right now. I can buy hopelessness, fear and selfishness wholesale. Perhaps it’s time to just start giving away the joy and kindness. Maybe that’s the kindling I need to get this Christmas fire really roaring.
But where do I start? I can’t just decide to feel the Christmas spirit and wake up in red and green and Christmas bells. So, I started small, moving through the traditions of Christmas’ past. I pulled out the Advent calendars a friend had given my children and let them start counting down (up?) to Christmas with a small piece of chocolate every night. I put up the Christmas tree and felt a palpable sense of lifted weight simply by plugging in the lights. I felt a real sense of hope as I helped my child make her gift to help someone in need. And I knew I was onto something when I was riding in the car with my kids, singing along to “Frosty the Snowman.”
In this season of fear and sadness, I invite us all to move through this season making a concentrated effort to make our days just a little brighter. Christmas cards feeling like a chore? Much like doing the dishes, if you just start I promise you’ll be glad you did it. Don’t know what to get certain people on your list and it’s giving you anxiety? Make a donation in their name to a charity you support. I guarantee that this will solve your gift giving problem and will make a difference for all involved. This is a season where we await he who came to bring us joy. And if a Christmas tree, a little piece of chocolate or silly song will help you remember that, nothing is too small to connect us to that feeling.
Shared by a Member of the Marble Community
Lord of time and hope, we are rushing headlong into the holidays to come. We look at our calendars and our day planners and wonder how we will get everything done in the time allotted to us before the “big Day” arrives. We begin to panic at the thought of projects still to be finished, contacts that need to be made, preparations for festivities that have only just begun. And the darkness of obsessive holiday planning overtakes us and clouds our minds and spirits.
But you are a God of time and Light. You the Lord of light, prince of peace, king of love came down and crept beside us. You bring hope to us, as you always have through the voices of the great prophets, and now through the One who is to come, Jesus Christ. Remind us again what this season is truly about……love, hope, peace and joy. Calm us down. Slow us down. Help us remember that it is in loving relationship that you gave your Son to us and it is in loving relationship that your Word is carried into the hearts of the people. No tinsel, ribbons, tape, cards and convey the eternal message adequately. You have given us the Light, to shine in our path and cut through our darkness.
Shine in the hearts of your people today. Bless our dear ones with your healing, reconciling, comforting presence and love. Give strength to all who face difficult situations and let your compassionate light shine on them guiding their decisions and their steps. Bring us at last to your presence, where the light of hope and love continually pour out on us.
These prayers and hopes we offer in confidence and gratitude for your love and presence. Amen.
Shared by Kirsty DePree
How does one adequately define and contain this thing known as Grace?
The word in speech calms and soothes; it brings with it hope and the promise of salvation.
We know Grace when we see it, feel it, but what exactly is it?
Grace is unearned we learn, given freely to those most undeserving.
“Ask and you shall receive,” scripture teaches. “knock and the door shall open.”
So, is Grace answered prayer, outcomes relentlessly hoped and prayed for?
What of the unanswered prayers and doors never opened?
“There but for the Grace of God,” we utter somewhat sheepishly when the fickle, unpredictable hands of perceived misfortune pass us by.
What then when we are brought to our knees, when life unexpectedly and fiercely pivots into the unknown, the unwelcomed and unwanted new normal?
Is there Grace in the darkness, the mess, the despair?
Or does Grace only reside in the light, the clarity, the joy?
Does Grace come solely from above, from our God?
Or can we, spiritual beings in human flesh, also be Grace-ious, bestowing Grace upon each other?
Is God’s will the opposite or is it synonymous to His Grace?
How does one define Grace, this small big word that is so often referenced and yet so rarely fully grasped?
Perhaps, like beauty and God (and other such big small concepts), Grace is defined by its beholder and is also beyond definition.