A Christmas Blessing




The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine – Isaiah 9:2

Christmas is, for most of us, a mixed experience.   There are celebrations, music, a sense of holiness and community.  However, there is also the loneliness, the unresolved grievances and a gnawing sense that we should be happier than we are at this time of the year.  God knows this about His people who “walk in darkness” and He sends a “great light” who, for those that believe, is Jesus.

In the mix and mud of our depression, we still need to find a way to give thanks to God for who He is.  Giving thanks encourages a feeling of contentment; a sense that we’re appreciative of what we’ve been given in our lives and that we don’t need more to be at peace.  At this time of year, we give thanks for God’s greatest gift – Jesus.

In the book “The Breath of the Soul” by Sister Joan Chittister, she writes:

“Gratitude is not only the posture of praise but it is also the basic element of real belief in God.  When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good.  We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves.  We proclaim that our existence and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God.  Gratitude is the alleluia to existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as tribute to the ongoing presence of God with us even now.  Without doubt, unstinting gratitude saves us from the sense of self-sufficiency that leads to forgetfulness of God.  Praise is not an idle virtue in life.  It says to us, ‘Remember to whom you are indebted.  If you never know need, you will come to know neither who God is nor who you yourself are.’ Need is what tests our trust.  It gives us the opportunity to allow others to hold us up in our weakness, to realize that only God in the end is the measure of our success.”

The other aspect of gratefulness is an appreciation of the goodness within us that God has placed there.  For those who suffer from depression, it’s sometimes hard to experience this if at all.  But just as the sun has not expired when it’s behind the clouds, we as children of God can’t extinguish this essential goodness in us.  As the great contemplative monk Thomas Keating  wrote, “The fundamental goodness of human nature . . . is an essential element of Christian faith.  Our basic core of goodness is our true Self.  Its center of gravity is God.”  He goes onto say, “The acceptance of our basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.”

Beyond the crowded malls, the smoke coming off our credit cards and the mindless consumerism that can overtake us all at this time of year, it’s the basic love of God and the goodness always within us that we can be most thankful for.  Take a “quantum leap”, if only for a short while, and experience the profound holiness which is really what Christmas is all about.

As the author Taylor Caldwell once wrote, “I am not alone at all, I thought.  I was never alone at all.  And that, of course, is the message of Christmas.  We are never alone.  Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent.  For this is still the time God chooses.”

God bless you all.

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