We're in unprecedented times, challenging times. We're amidst a dark season of national discord and a worldwide pandemic. No matter what you're personally feeling, there is uncertainty and there is fear all around us.
And, guess what? There is also an invitation for joy! This is the third week of advent and we're moving rapidly toward Christmas. How can we experience the challenges we've faced this year and embrace JOY? I keep thinking of Mary. What challenges she faced and what joy she delivered!
Our advent retreat in thePeace Seekers community has featured weekly playlists taking us from Advent to Christmas. Music has a way of helping me slow down, listen, be present, and enJOY whatever activity I'm amidst. In tough times, music helps me contemplate, pause, and feel companioned. In joyous times it helps me celebrate and savor. What does music offer you?
Our Peace Seekers on retreat are enjoying the weekly playlists and I thought I would share this one with you! I pray it's an invitation to ponder joy this season. May it carry you from the waiting and the unknown to the joy of the coming of Christ. May the music be with you in the highs and in the lows. May it help remind you that the joy of Christ's coming is not only near, it's for each of us. It gives me joy to receive and share that gift!
A Christmas Prayer
WHEN LIFE FORCES US TO WRESTLE with what's difficult, give us courage.
Teach us that there is a purpose in everything we experience, and everything is more than it appears to be.
This world is permeated by your Presence, and is your Presence in form.
May we be drawn to your Voice above the other, competing voices.
Great and Holy one, we pray for Peace.
Take us to the abode of Peace for which all hearts long.
WE PRAY TO FIND STILLNESS WITHIN our busyness, and
Rest in the midst of our celebrations and activity.
Show us how to walk more gently, more patiently, on the Earth.
Let kindness be born within all hearts.
Teach us to draw together as one people.
May our prayer rise up like fire and be Light for a troubled world. This we know, Something is trying to be born in us.
Take our hand as we set out anew.
From Advent: A Time of Hope by Paula D'Arcy.
Last year I purchased this adorable Christmas craft from Cozy Blue. And sadly, I've spent all of about 30 minutes working on it. I'm not sure why I was more excited about the idea of this piece than actually sitting down with my hands and being present while stitching. I was ecstatic with my purchase and have since looked at it and pondered, why have I paused in picking it up?
Maybe it's because I'm a recovering perfectionist and am afraid my final piece won't measure up to the Instagram worthy photos I've seen of the finished kit? Maybe I am simply distracted by life's responsibilities amidst a pandemic year? Maybe it's that silly puppy's fault I don't have space for thread and needles? Maybe I long for presence but don't always prioritize it? Maybe I have spent my time in other valuable ways besides crafting with my hands? There are a lot of maybes in life, aren't there?
If you haven't noticed, we are entering in to a season of giving! But here's what I'm reminded of... if we don't slow down long enough to receive, we won't have space to give. My hands can remind me to be open to and grateful for the way God allows me to both give and receive. Maybe I can practice that while crafting this season?
This Advent, I'm choosing to set aside all those "maybes" and enter in with open hands. I'm choosing presence over perfection. I'm choosing to slow down and prioritize the gift of this season. I'm choosing to ready myself for God's gift of Jesus. That may mean I end up with a finished craft and it may not. We'll see. Will you join me?
If you'd like to practice giving and receiving with your own hands today in prayer, savor this body scan meditation and a moment of gratitude for the ways you are giving and receiving in your life with God.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC