I’ll be honest today and say that I am spent. I have set out a few times this morning to write about peace, to tell you about the wholeness and “shalom” (to use a biblical word) that we focus in on this last week of Advent. At the end of it all, though, I think it is worth saying that these days are exactly what the incarnation of Jesus speaks to and transform. God is with us. God is for us. This is our hope.
December is the month in the restaurant industry that threatens you with idolatry. No, there are no Baals to bow down to in the server’s stations, and no, there are no ceremonial temples that I know of- then again, I am always the last to know. What I mean is that, as we all rush around to get our last minute shopping done, everybody’s life becomes hectic beyond what we have believed possible. And as life’s pace doubles in December, I am the one that profits- well, me along with the rest of my restaurant brethren.
Office parties, friends in from out of town, family looking for a public place to congregate, lovers enjoying a special time together- each December it is more of a challenge to remain, as my friend Kent would say, “a person.” You start to see the world in a bizarre, skewed fashion, replacing eyes, noses and mouths with dollar signs. I have met so many people in the past three weeks that I see my own incapability to care for and love others. Just so long as they eat without fanfare and leave so I can turn the table. I have a feeling this is not the peace that I meant to focus upon this week.
This year is a bit different. I am in the middle of a Christmas week that includes three whole days off. Yesterday, today and tomorrow I get to be a person again. I get to re-adjust to life among people who do not pay my bills twenty percent at a time. I can walk my dog. I can work with my hands and build something that will be enjoyed by another. I can apply my mind to something that will not be cooked and served on a hot plate. I can take another shot at living that abundant life Jesus came to give me. I can be a recipient of love. I can own my idolatrous heart. I can lay down my weapons of war and embrace peace.
Today I write as one with nothing to say but what has already been said for centuries before. God is with us. Emmanuel. Rejoice. He has come to us. He has lived with us. He has died for us. He has risen to new life for us. He prays for us. He calls us to leave the idols we serve and follow him with a fresh obedience.
In the midst of our warring hearts, he offers peace in the simplest of ways. The voice of Christ calls out this season:
Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.
God is for us.