So often, we hear about “holidays” and “vacations” in the same breath that we forget that so many people might not be so fortunate as to have time off this week or next. There are the obvious workers : the first responders, servicemen and women, and medical professionals for whom work does not take a holiday (nor can the). There are also the members of the clergy, church musicians, and others who combine faith with work and for whom Christmas is a highly-busy, energetic time to not only worship but, also, labor.
If you are juggling a chronic illness with work and the holidays, you’re probably feeling more stress and pressure than usual. And even if you don’t have health challenges, it can be difficult to raise a joyful voice and sing “Hallelujah!” (except, perhaps to herald the end of the frantic holiday season!).
For those who work, this TLC Tuesday I’d like to gently encourage you to take a break however you can. Step back, sit down, and breathe. Do invite the simple message of Christmas into your heart, let it dwell there, and let its comfort and love bring you peace even if you have to work hard throughout December 25 and beyond.
If you’re working this week and next – thank you for your labors! You are in my prayers and, no doubt, you are in the hearts of those whom you serve.
Joy and peace,
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Christmas is near! And no doubt your calendar is full of more things than you know you will be able to accomplish between now and the 24th. All the more reason why breaking away and taking time for prayer is important.
The clutter in our lives can stifle prayer, and, besides our calendars, our homes, cars, and even perhaps our workspaces are cluttered with “To-dos” and “Must-dos”.
This week, think of helping yourself in prayer by clearing however small a space for peaceful, focused time with God. Move papers so that there is a spot of clear desk that you can look upon as you pray at work. Move boxes and bags from a corner at home and sit, quietly, in the newly-simplified space.
Pray with simplicity – and with a direct spirit. God will hear you clearly, as He always does, and He will cleanse your heart so that you are prepared, inside and out, for the celebration of Christmas!
Joy and peace,
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If medical expenses and life in general is sapping your ability to be a major gift-giver, take heart – and give it back! Yes, it isn’t too late to lavish your family and friends, and even members of your medical team, with gifts. How?
One of the best gifts I’ve ever given (for me to give and others to receive) was to each member of a church choir that I conducted several years ago. On a festively-colored piece of paper that I rolled up and tied with a ribbon, I hand-wrote my thanks to them for all their service, fellowship and friendship throughout the year. I also added a few lines about what it was about each of them that made them so very special to the choir and to me. The hours I spent doing this helped me focus on the human gifts that God bestows and the appreciation we often forget to express in the busy-ness of our lives.
Just a suggestion for you. If you are cash-strapped and unable to buy and give, think about expressing your love and thanks to those close to you. Write it up, wrap it up, and give it as a precious gift you eagerly extend.
That’s exactly what it is!
Joy and peace,
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When we enter a darkened room, what do we do? Turn on a light. There’s an often complicated set of actions that takes place “behind the scenes” that we probably don’t think about – switches and wiring and lamps and bulbs. The important thing is that the light goes on and we proceed without hurting ourselves (or something we might run into).
I think of prayer much like turning on a light. There is all sorts of theology I could probably consider, and certainly there can be elaborate prayers and postures that accompany them. But the important thing is my reaching for God in prayer and letting the light illuminate me, my world, and my prayer intentions.
So simple. So vital.
This third week of Advent, think of the light that comes on each time you pray. Think of the simplicity of being able to “just be” with God. And let the glow surround you, nourish you, lead you.