The Storm Before the Calm

by Matt Olin

The Christmas season for me, like so many others, has been a time of tasks more than a time of celebration.  My father worked for the church and my mother was always very involved and so December was a time where we didn't see much of my dad unless we were at the church assisting him with set-up, maintenance, choir rehearsal, decorating and changing of the tapestries, etc.  It was always work, with the understanding that we were doing it for Jesus.

Years later I still find it all too easy to fall into the same habit of performance rather than celebration.  There's work to be done, decorations to put up, parties to attend or plan, meals to make, and church to set up.  I put off taking a moment to sit, reflect, and dialogue with the God who loved me, who knew me before the universe was created.  The God who is so relentlessly in love with me and so insistent on making sure I would have the opportunity to not only spend eternity with him, but spend my life here with him as well.  Instead I run around and take care of what needs to be taken care of along with so many others.  I, and my family, do what ever is needed, joyfully out of love and thanks to God and our community.  But I forget this isn't about what I can do or how much I need to do.  This is about what was done for me.

And so the chaos continues.  Until...

There is a moment for me, during the last Christmas service (it's like this every year), when the lights are low and the soft voices of the people gathered begin singing 'O Holy Night'.  The candles light up and I see the glow on peoples faces.  Faces of people that have heard the good news; that have come together for the same truth: For God so loved us that...  I feel my body; my soul and my physical being, relax and calm.  My heartbeat slows and falls into the rythm of the song I've sung for so many years.  I become present.  I stop performing and let the lyrics remind me.  I remember my need for a messiah and the God who loves me enough to come down, become man, live, die, and rise again for me.  At this moment I finally enter into the Christmas spirit, His Spirit.  And I realize that Christmas is no different a time for me than any other day.  I perform, I do tasks, I forget.  So my prayer is not to make sure that next Christmas isn't like the ones before, that I can remain present in His truth during this season.  My prayer is that I can remain present in His truth every day. I pray that I stop living out of my own performance and start living out of the Truth that is Christ within me.  May I wake each day remembering how much God loves me.

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