by Mary Stout
1Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, 2complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. 3Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. 4Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. 5Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:1-5)
As we inch closer to Christmas day I hurt. I hurt for the people who lost everything in the fires in California. I hurt for the families of police officers who have been killed on duty. I hurt for the addicts who suffer because they have not found a way out yet. I hurt for single moms who can’t afford Christmas. I hurt for the grieving widow or widower whose first Christmas will be filled with pain of being alone.
If I focus my life on this, I would be hopeless and feel as though all is lost. Admittedly, there are moments that I feel overwhelmed by the world. My life can get crazy busy just like all of you. We feel the darkness immensely.
I wonder if Mary felt that as well when she and Joseph left for Bethlehem. From Nazareth to Bethlehem it’s about 90 miles. It had to be a grueling long trip. Being with child and traveling such a long distance, Mary probably tired easily, and probably was anxious about going as she was so great with child. Mary pondered as they traveled. Where will they end up? Will her baby be safely delivered? Will the people along the way be helpful or harmful? As they traveled, did they talk about the upcoming birth and how it would change their lives? Was Mary scared as the night came? Did she trust in Joseph to be her protector during the long trip? Mary felt the darkness around her. She also trusted God.She knew that even though this trip was long, hard and uncomfortable God would see them through. Her faith allowed her to go through a difficult and challenging time. She knew God would place around her people who would love her, people whose beliefs were similar, people who became like family and neighbors who looked after her.
As difficult and dark as it can be, we gather each week, encouraging one another, connecting with each other, worshipping and celebrating the Lord. We become a reflection of His light as we show others God’s immeasurable love. We strengthen our faith and our bond each time we make a choice to follow Jesus. It’s a daily choice to put on the attitude of Christ and live.
Whether it’s building bicycles for Christmas or packing bags for backpack buddies or listening to that inner voice that says there is a need, meet it, God’s call to action challenges us to think of others, sharing worship and connecting with the body of Christ each day. As we do, we become a beacon of hope in our community.
Prayer: Father help us to choose joy and love daily. Show us how love means action in our thoughts and deeds. May each of us know we belong to the body of Christ and reflect your light. In Jesus name, Amen