5 of my Favorite Thoughts on Christmas

I have noticed it’s been quite hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s still in the mid-60′s down here in Arizona. But Megan put up some great decorations and we’ve been pumping the Sufjan Stevens Holiday station on Pandora, which helps. This morning I decided to do some Advent reading and see if that helps get me into the spirt — and it really has, perhaps a bit more than this wonderful picture to the left. Perhaps this Santa/Jesus battle is reflected in a couple of the thoughts later (maybe #2).

So here are my top 5 favorite quotes about Advent. (Sidenote: They aren’t necessarily interrelated with each other, but all center around Advent and Christmas.)

5. “We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience. Only when we have felt the terror of the matter, can we recognize the incomparable kindness.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer from “The Coming of Jesus in Our Midst” in “Watch for the Light”

4. “Waiting has its rewards, as I want to argue here… And yet, we might think of waiting also as a temporary liberation from the economics of time-is-money, as a brief respite from the haste of modern life, as a meditative temporal space in which one might have unexpected intuitions and fortuitous insights.” – Harold Schweitzer in  On Waiting

3. “So, according to the New Testament the dream of a liberator, and the dream of peace, is not merely a dream. The liberator is already present and his power is already among us. We can follow him, even today making visible something of the peace, liberty and righteousness of the kingdom that he will complete. It is no longer impossible. It has become possible for us in fellowship with him. Let us share in his new creation of the world and — born again to a living hope — live as new men and women.” – Jurgen Moltmann in “The Disarming Child” from “Watch for the Light”

2. “While many American Christians complain about what the store employees wish them, they are there in the stores alongside everyone else, engaging in a practice that has no real Biblical roots, making purchases in the spirit of our contemporary materialistic age.” – James F. McGrath in “Christmas: The Christian War on Solstice”

1. “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” – Stephen Colbert on Jesus and Christmas. See the full clip here.

There you have it!

Did any of these resonate with you? What are some thoughts or particularly meaningful quotes you have as Christmas comes closer?

I hope you’re enjoying the season, wherever you are, as much as we are down in the desert!

Cheers,
Eric

Meditating with Thomas Merton

I came across a quote by Thomas Merton this morning and it has been sticking with me. As I’ve said in an earlier post, I often fall into the trap of feeling like I have to prove myself a lot of times. I get trapped in a tangled and messy web of achievement. Some of the time, it can be a great motivator and can inspire some really creative and interesting stuff. A lot of times it can suck. But I make the best of it and keep on going. This Merton quote has helped me relax a bit and breathe easier. Hope it’s helpful for you as well.

All the good that you will do will come not from you, but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.

Did anything stick out to you in Merton’s words? Was anything particularly inspiring for you? I know this seems to open me up with the opportunity to be a little less harsh on myself, which is always a welcome endeavor. Hope it was helpful for you as well.

Cheers,
Eric

John Caputo on the Calling of God

I do not believe in the existence of God, but in God’s insistence. I do not say God “exists,” but that God calls, God calls upon us, like an unwelcome interruption, a quiet but insistent solicitation, which may or may not come true.

In what ways do you welcome God’s call? In what ways do you resist? How can we more closely listen to the God who, not only exists but, actively calls us into ministry?

Cheers,
Eric

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