Monday, December 26, 2005

CHRISTMAS TAILWIND

We had a white Christmas. "Where the treetops glisten..." Eat you hearts out, those of you who have to suffer in Florida, southern California and Texas. We had snow two weeks ago, but it warmed up toward the end of last week, too warm for snow. Then, surprisingly, on the afternoon of Christmas, rain turned to a beautiful snowfall. It was enough to cover the ground but not enough to make driving dangerous. Those who made it home for the holidays around here had a special treat. "...and may all your Christmases be white."

WINTER GRACE. Like a good tailwind, Christmas eases us gracefully into winter. It is the grace we need. Think of it: excluding our Florida and southern California neighbors, we are heading straight into at least two months of freezing temperatures, gray overcast skies, occasional snowstorms, colds and flu. And here we are frolicking in the snow, singing holiday songs, dressing up our homes, being festive and cheerful. On January 2nd, we will wake up to a long haul. But the memory and momentum of these holy, hearty days will propel us forward. Daylight will eventually lengthen. Our destiny is resurrection. Spring will come. Life will be renewed.

DIGGING IN. The Christian calendar helps us live a story and take a journey from Advent to Christmas, from Christmas to Epiphany, from Epiphany to Lent, from Lent to Holy Week and Easter, and from Easter to Pentecost. I recommend that you find a devotional guide (like A Guide to Prayer by Jobs and Shawchuck) that helps you walk a historic daily path during these months. Winter is a season for digging new wells, plowing fallow ground, and challenging spiritual lethargy. Dig in, not to brace yourself against the cold, but to embrace the grace that goes before you to bring new hope, new perspective, new life.

SAINTS DON'T COAST. Incidentally, I know of no one who has mastered prayer. I know of no one who has so studied or meditated so well that today is not all the challenge their souls can bear. I know of no one for whom daily grace is optional; no one who no longer needs to be bathed in Scripture, vigilant in self-discipline, or persistent in Christian fellowship and hospitality. Saints don't coast. With a mind and heart ever open through the various means of grace, they keep moving with the cutting edge of faith. Yesterday's grace is memorable and cause for gratitude; today challenges every fiber of our being, and for it grace will be sufficient. Only let us diligently tune our hearts to see and hear its otherwise imperceptible dramas.

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