December is a busy time for many Americans- holidays and hard work. However, if you can take a moment or two, it is a good time to start thinking about recalibrating spiritual life. For us Christians, we can calibrate around Advent and think about the purpose of Christ’s coming. We can also think about how Christ in us can look in the coming new year.
In the weeks leading to Christmas, while we are busy trying to organize covid-safe family gatherings and events, we can also take a few minutes daily to think about why we have Christmas. We all know the Christmas story but we can get so over-it and jaded that we forget why Jesus actually came.
Let’s take a breath and a fresh look at John 3:16 which many of us learned in Sunday school or Awana: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Our goofy western culture has come to frame that eternal life that we are given as “going to heaven when we die”. Thus, it it something that happens in the future and has no relevance to our lives here on earth.
Therefore, it does not matter how we live and behave here on earth…although it does matter how others are living and behaving. Other folks, especially non-believers, need to be fixed in any way possible so that their lives do not cause us disequilibrium. And when others are not living lives we are comfortable with, we can behave in anyway we want to try to force them into behavioral compliance.
At least, that is how our culture looks to me. When I talk to health care workers and other professionals who have borne the brunt of this pandemic, they often tell me they have felt bullied by “Christians”. When I talk to folks who do not have a connection to the Christian faith and they are harassed about their lifestyle choices, they do not feel drawn to God’s love or our faith.
As a counselor, I often ask my clients, “Is that behavior getting you what you want?” So, for my angry fellow believers: Is bullying and judgementalism getting you want?
Where I’m going with this is: What if we believers take some time during Advent to check up on our Fruit of the Spirit:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control
What if we take a little time to ask God to calibrate our hearts to look like Christ: full of Fruit. That is an interesting Advent prayer.
BTW- If you would like to add a regular time to think about Advent and recalibrate towards God, have you ever practiced doing Advent wreath? There are lots of ways to add this tradition to your life. Here is one.
Recalibrating for the New Year
January is always a good time for a fresh start. It is a good time to build on the thoughts of Advent and set some intentions toward spiritual growth.
Why not set some simple spiritual intentions:
*Pray that God help you grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23)
*Pray that God help you notice His work daily (One way to do this is a simple Ignatian examen.)
*Pray that God help you be a light in the world through lovingkindness and grace towards those who are not like you
God bless and keep you. May you grow in grace.