The last weeks have been difficult ones for some in my family. A long and unexpected hospital stay, including surgery, left part of my family struggling through the Christmas season. I once heard Henri Nouwen say, “Jesus didn’t come to take our pain away, but to be with us in it.” While I would like God to fix everything that is amiss in my life and the lives of those I love, that was never God’s promise. The promise wasn’t to fix, but to be with us in the difficulty and complexity of life’s challenges.
Brennan Manning, in his book, “Reflections for Ragamuffins” mentions a man who was reflecting on the gospel of John where it is written, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . . The Word was made flesh and dealt among us.” (John 1:1-5) As the man thought about the passage it seemed to him that God was saying, “Yes, the Word was made flesh. I chose to enter your broken world and limp through life with you.”
Brennan Manning goes on to say, “On that last day, when we arrive at the Great Mansion in the Sky, many of us will be bloodied, battered, bruised, and limping. But, by God and by Christ, there will be a light in the window and a “welcome home” sign on the door.”
We do not know what this new year holds for us. For some of us there will be great trials. We may face enormous challenges or confront heartache and sorrow. High mountains may be conquered . . . where we will revel in the accomplishment of long sought dreams. Along the journey, it may be that we find ourselves in turn, battered, bruised, bloodied, weary and worn by the turnings of life.
In the birth of Jesus, we witnessed God’s fresh start in our world . . . God coming to live among us, to show us how to live life with integrity and with power. In Jesus, God entered a weary world and the earth has never quite been the same. God’s gifts of comfort, strength, hope and joy came with Jesus. It is God’s gift, freely and abundantly available for all . . . God’s welcome sign, sent to all the worlds people. We call this gift grace.
May your life be touched by “grace filled moments” where you have cause to marvel at God’s good gifts of love for you.