11-25-19 - More Blessed Than Stressed

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

Next Sunday we begin the holy season of Advent. Advent means “the approaching” – the approaching in-breaking realm of God, the approaching celebration of Christ’s incarnation, the ever-approaching promised final Coming of Christ in glory to usher in the New Age.

Before Sunday, though, we have a huge cultural celebration of Thanksgiving, which is not without its spiritual elements. And before that, we have the scramble to finish work, clean houses and buy food, if we’re hosting; or pack and prep if we’re traveling. In other words, this will be, for many, a stressful three days followed by a full and, God-willing, relaxing three days, after which we plunge into the holy season of Advent. Many different themes, and maybe not so much time for spiritual reflection. I will keep Water Daily flowing, but lightly, and less tied to Sunday’s readings. (I thank our British readers for bearing with us...)

Today let’s just focus on preparation and anticipation. We tend to prepare for things we either dread or look forward to – and Thanksgiving can have elements of both. Find a way to bring the Holy Spirit into your preparations this week. I believe God wants to indwell and transform our every-day lives, not only our formal worship experiences.

So… if you’re working harder than usual to cram five days’ work into two or three, may I suggest you set an alarm every hour or three. When it goes off, take three minutes away from your tasks to breathe, re-center and tell God what it is you’re working on, and where you’d like some help.

If you’re shopping and cooking, you might make a game of talking to Jesus in the store (maybe not out loud…) and in the kitchen, and remember why you’re participating in this ritual of food and family.

If you’re traveling, you might need extra grace and extra peace – so pack some along as you get things ready for your suitcase, as you clean up your house and commit yourself to the road. Ask the God of peace to fill you and make you an agent of peace in any stress or frenzy you may encounter in getting from A to B.

And if your big plan is to hit the Friday sales… think about it. Is that deal worth the time and angst it’s going to take? If you love it, go for it; if not, take another day to rest.. (And remember Small Business Saturday… buy local!)

For many, this is a week of blessings and stressings like few others in our calendar year. Let’s move through it as children of God, beloved and bounded in time and space, not trying to do more than we can or should. Gratitude flows from a balanced perspective on who we are, who we are not, and how we are blessed. We can make this a week more blessed than stressed.

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