You see, my very best friend growing up, just lost her father. Their house was where I spent many nights, days, and weekends. I called her parents mom and dad. I vacationed with them. We spent holidays together. For many years, we were inseparable. We have always joked, that our friendship worked, because I always said what she was thinking, and too polite to say out loud. Her family is so dear to my heart, and I love each of them.
The loss of her father, and the recent passing of my sweet Tia Angie, has me thinking about presence. Presence can make such a profound impact on the lives of people. I think of these two people and the impact of their presence in my life. I am so thankful for even the small things they did to encourage and influence me. Often we walk through our daily lives with a list of chores to do, work to do, errand to run, and obligations to meet. It is in this season that I see that presence is all that really matters.
A Christmas Prayer: By Max Lucado
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Max Lucado sent this prayer out on Friday after the news of the school shootings. What a beautiful way to show us that Jesus came into our world at a time filled with hate and evil. I thought his prayer was exactly what I have been thinking. His prayer showed the significance of presence, and how important it was then and now. We need God's presence. We need BOTH our MOTHERS AND FATHERS to be present. We need our hearts, families, and communities to be wrap in the loving presence of Jesus. We need to start at home. We need to start with ourselves. We need to take a moment to review our hearts and adjust our lives and start experiencing presence.
My husband and I make sacrifices to put our daughter first. We pray for her, and with her. We read the Bible with her. We are present in her life. It is Christmas time, and what an excellent example Jesus gave us, about presence. God became human to be with us. Jesus died to be with us. How much quality time our we spending with Him? How much time our we giving our families? How much effort our we using nurturing our relationships?
There is a hustle and bustle about this time of the year. For some it is met with joy, and others with sadness. While I admit to having a slow start to finding my joy, I have learned this. If you want to find true joy, lasting joy, love-filled joy, you need only put your eyes on Jesus. The cliche saying," Jesus is the reason for the season," doesn't really do justice to its meaning. The season is decorated and wrapped in pretty paper and bows, but the true joy of the season is experiencing HIS presence. It is not only the gift of his birth, and the salvation found in His resurrection; it is the EVERYDAY PRESENCE that makes a difference.
As you prepare this week and next to celebrate Christmas. I want to challenge you. I challenge you to have a season of presence. Be present for your family and your children, not just in the fast lane or drive thru. I challenge you to experience genuine presence with your loved ones. Make a new tradition. Make more time to hold your loved ones a little longer. Most of all, I challenge you to experience the PRESENCE OF THE ONE TRUE LIVING GOD, JESUS CHRIST. When you do He will show you more joy, hope, and love than you could ever imagine. My prayer for each of you will be that you will experience a LIFETIME of presence.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!