I love Christmas, and yet, it is one of the most conflicted times of the year. Sometimes the conflict is in competing priorities. There is just too much to do. Some of what demands our attention takes time away from where we want to focus more attention. Sometimes we have to choose from a feast of riches. Other times the conflict is emotional. This has been a year marked by loss for West Raleigh. We have lost ten saints of the church in just over a year, some of them too young and too quickly. There is other loss dwelling just below the surface of our lives too, some of it we have been living with for years and some is fresh and painfully new.

Then there is the national polarization that creates flash points around our own holiday tables. The self-help magazines and morning shows are talking about this messy, human dynamic (my words) and offering their own solutions for a conflict-free holiday (their words): simplify, avoid, or change your routine, they say. All worthy advice to consider.

But what keeps coming to my mind is draw near. If the conflict is in competing priorities, draw near to the One who chose you before the foundation of the world. You will find your Way. If the conflict is in trying to hold grief and joy together, draw near to the one who holds you. And if our nation’s pain is tearing at the fabric of your family, draw near to the One who promises to make a highway for God straight through this dry, desert land. Draw near, dear people of God, or, rest knowing that God has already drawn near to you. In the manger, God drew near to all that is human and conflicted and beautiful and real. In Jesus, God was clothed with our reality, experienced the vulnerability of youth, the pain of loss, the loneliness of betrayal. In Jesus, God draws near, promising salvation to a world that waits with eager longing for the time when every tear will be wiped away and all things will be made new. Draw near, church, for it is Advent, and the angels are beginning to hum their sweet song of hope.

God’s grace & peace, be, rest & abide with you,
Katherine

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