Year of Gratitude: December, Week 4

On this third day of Christmas, I find myself deeply grateful for many things. However, I have been in several conversations where people are tired, overwhelmed and just want to close the book on 2018.

Some periods of time are like that. Sometimes it feels like one damn thing after another and the desire is to be “over it!” Our challenge, is a year of gratitude. Certainly, a new year, with all the blank spaces on the calendar can give a visualization of hope, promise, opportunity and newness of life.

I don’t think that we should actually just try to erase the past, particularly not the painful past. I know I hate when I hear what have I learned from my difficulties or pain or grief. The challenge is what have I learned?

I can be grateful, even when my life is not all I would hope it would be. I can be grateful when nothing is going right. How? I am grateful by choosing to find those moments when I have been loved, cared for and affirmed. I can search my memories and experiences to find those people who have most embodied God’s presence with their love, their laughter and their grace.

In the Christian tradition we are in the midst of the twelve days of Christmas which begins on December 25 and ends with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. We celebrate Emmanuel, God-with-us. We give thanks for God who is embodied in humanity and we see this embodiment in Jesus. Through Jesus, we too, are called to embody God, to be the incarnation of the God in the world.

The challenge for this week, is to take some time and think about 2018. Where have you seen God at work in your life and in the lives of others? In the gospel of Luke, at the end of the story of the birth of Jesus, it says that “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What will treasure from this year? What things will you continue to ponder?

Anytime someone lives out the “incarnation” of God, it is a gift without measure. In our faith, God puts on skin and shares life with us. We, in our faith, then allow God to be at work in us and through us. The greatest gift of Christmas is seeing God in Christ and then seeing God in others. Share this week, how you have seen that gift in another.

The December challenge is to be grateful for gifts. Write one thank you note to someone you have seen living out the grace of God. Perhaps it was seeing someone help someone else, perhaps they were embodying the love and grace of Jesus in a conversation, or in a visit or a call. Surely there is one person in whom you have seen the living expression of God’s love and grace. Thank them as part of this year of gratitude.



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