Looking Outside of Ourselves

Today’s Word:  HUMILITY

Today’s Time of Stillness:  4 minutes

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” – Philippians 2:4-7

A young man, out of place in a nursing home, rocking recklessly to the beat as he sat at the dining table, mouthing the words to Jingle Bells with pure joy in his eyes.

Tearful words, “This is my Christmas,” from the sweet woman who kept the nursery at the church for so many years.

The sudden smile from the bedridden man being fed dinner by his wife as three of the children stood in the doorway of his room offering a solo of Deck the Halls.

They are not the images that make the front of a Christmas card, but they are gifts of Christmas that can never be replicated by anything wrapped with a bow or stuffed in a stocking.  Gifts I would have missed had I given in to the tugs pulling me to do other things yesterday afternoon instead of going caroling; tugs that often derail our good intentions this time of year – the shopping I could get done, the living room that’s still not dusted, the nap I really want.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in ‘me’ and ‘mine’ during the holiday season.  Literally!  But if we truly want to understand why Jesus came, why he gave up everything to be present with us in human form, we have to look outside of ourselves, particularly through the eyes of those who, on the surface, can give nothing in return.  In these unexpected places and faces, we catch a glimpse of what hope and joy and love really look like; we catch a glimpse of Jesus.

Stillness helps me to get out of my own way; to make room for the faces of others to emerge.  It reminds me that, when all of the decorations are stripped away, I, too, really have nothing to give in return and yet Jesus still came for me.


The Spiritual Practice of Stillness

Stillness is a form of prayer, but it is a time without words – our words, anyway.  In stillness, we rest before God, believing that God is present, whether we can feel that presence or not.  We rest in knowing that we are beloved by God and that God desires us to be with him.  That is why Jesus came – Immanuel, God with us.

Maybe you will hear a word from God during your times of stillness or maybe you will be all too aware of the baking soda you need from the grocery store for your cookies or the bird outside your window crowing louder than you can ever remember.  Don’t be frustrated by wandering thoughts.  Use your word for the day as a breath prayer to call your mind back to God.  And don’t judge your time of stillness by how “productive” you think it is.  It’s not about what you do, it’s about who God is.  Our being in God’s presence matters to God and so it matters to us.

Blessings this Advent season!

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