As we grow in our faith, we learn that praying isn't like a Christmas list where we tell God what we want or demand a certain result by a certain deadline. But when times are tough, as it's been for some of the folks who read this blog, it's pretty difficult not to have solutions in mind when you pray or to remember that it's about God's will and not our own.
Yet the truth is, if you prayed and suddenly an angel appeared out of nowhere offering to solve all your problems, you'd find that pretty unsettling.
This has been a tough year for some folks. Some face health issues or financial problems. Others may feel as if their faith is being tested. It's important to remember that the swelling music that heralds the arrival of instant help is just a Hollywood trick and that if you don't hear it, it doesn't mean you're not a "good man" (or woman). It doesn't mean that all is lost or that your prayer hasn't been heard. It also doesn't mean that you "prayed the wrong way" or you don't have enough faith.
Christmas is a time when we are reminded how much God loves us, yet we forget that and often place expectations upon ourselves and others that are impossible to meet. Those lists we make of things to do, things to buy, people to write cards to or call or visit can and do distract us from the real meaning of Christmas. Celebrating Christmas can and does include being in prayer with God as we mark this holiest of times. No matter what your circumstances, you can celebrate Christmas, knowing that its most precious gift is the gift of love, freely given to all of us equally.
"Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world - stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death - and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas."
-- Henry Van Dyke
I wish everyone a happy and holy Christmas.