Advent Devotional – Saturday, December 19

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Week 3 – December 19 – Our Fragile Earth

Reflector: Stephanie Willingham Moffitt

1 Thess. 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Easy to remember, hard to follow. That’s how I interpret these words from Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians.

Before COVID19 changed the landscape of our lives, each morning as we got in the car to leave for school, I would ask my children the same set of questions:
Do you have your lunch?
Do you have your books?
Do you have your water bottle…jacket…snow boots…gloves…fill in the blank.

They have learned to anticipate and predict my questions, and so their answers have become rote and mechanical…yes, they have everything, but every now and then someone has forgotten to actually bring their necessary items. It is easy for them (and us) to remember what we can do, but difficult sometimes to actually do what is possible.

Now, whenever we go anywhere, I have added to my list of questions:
Do you have your mask?

2020 has been a year of challenges (an understatement, for sure). The imperative statements Paul offers in these verses remind us that the good news of God’s presence through the birth of Christ can be our foundation for joy and thanksgiving, even in the midst of challenges.

When we celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate the fact that God invites us to a life where challenges and hard things don’t win. That is God’s will for us: to live our lives with new ways of being…even while we remind our families to pack their hand sanitizer and masks every time they leave the house. God’s incarnation through the birth of Christ invites us to consider the ways in which we can flip the script on the challenges we face and consider what is possible.

It is easy to anticipate and remember that we can rejoice, pray, and practice gratitude in many circumstances. It is hard to actually rejoice, pray, and practice gratitude when challenges (or pandemics or grief) come our way.

During this Advent season, my prayer is that we all have the energy to hope for and believe that there is a way, a truth, and a life where joy and thanksgiving are possible…even when everything feels hard.

How can the story of a child who is born in a stable invite you into joy and gratitude this season? Where is it possible for you to flip the script on the challenges you face?