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Daily Encouragement - December 23

Isaiah 61: 10

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God

Titus 2:11-14

The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! This has been one of my favorite days for more than 25 years. December 23 marks the day my parents host a party for some of our families closest friends, many who are more like family than friends.

Mom always has an plentiful buffet of homemade snacks and treats. Sausage balls, cheese straws, crab dip, homemade cider, brie, 2 different homemade cheeseballs…you get the picture. The crowd would gather through the late afternoon into the early evening. It seemed that as years have gone by, we have had new additions to our gathering each year. New friends become part of the group, marriages, new babies…there’s never a dull (or quiet) moment in my parents house on Christmas Eve Eve.

There are several in the group who play music and sing, and we often find ourselves singing late into the night…usually until somewhere close to midnight, dad says something to the tune of ‘alright y’all, I’m going to bed. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here’, followed by a wink and his silhouette drifting down the hall towards his slumber. We’d usually wind the music down and move over to just talking and reminiscing until we found our eyes getting heavy and we say our eventual late night goodbyes. We all promise we’ll do better about keeping in touch and getting together throughout the year, but that rarely happens. It’s usually just on Christmas Eve Eve and I guess that’s why I look so forward to it.

I’m disappointed that this particular Christmas and Advent seasons have been altered for our celebration purposes. Season’s change I suppose, and we try move on. We stretch ourselves, say ‘Ces’t La Vie’ (that’s just the way it goes) and we keep moving ahead. That’s difficult for many as Christmas Day nears. Every one of us long for our own normal. We have our own beautiful versions of what Christmas is and means to us and we long especially for that in the season of hope.

This is a season of expectation and preparation, an opportunity to align ourselves with God’s presence and rediscover Christmas. Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and help us focus on a far greater story than our own—the story of God’s redeeming love for our world. It’s not a season of pretending to be happy or covering up the pain or hardships we have experienced during the past year—it is a season of digging deep into the reality of what it means that God sent His Son into the world to be God With Us. It is a season of expectation and preparation, an opportunity to align ourselves with God’s presence.

Perhaps in the uncertainty and strangeness of this season, we’ve been given a gift of the opportunity to rediscover and reimagine Christmas. May yours be blessed and may your eyes be awake and open to all God has for you to see.

Pastor Michael Williams

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