Credit: "the brighter they shine" by Flickr user roujo, Creative Commons license.

By the Rev. Cara Scriven | Tacoma District Superintendent

[dropcap type=”1″]C[/dropcap]Christmas is my favorite holiday. I eagerly await the first day when I can play Christmas music without a judgmental look from my husband. While everyone else is out shopping on Black Friday, I can be found at home decorating for Christmas, with the obligatory acknowledgement of Advent here and there. I find great joy reveling in the colorful lights, the special music, and the joy that this season brings.

As much as I love the season, I discovered that it was hard this year to get into my usually “Christmas is near” happiness. One day last week, as I opened my Scripture reading for the morning, I realized why this year has been so hard. For the last two weeks, I have been reading exclusively from Amos.

Amos lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah around 750BCE. He was a shepherd and a farmer by trade who was called to preach to the Northern Kingdom of Israel at a time of peace. His message isn’t one of great joy announcing a coming savior. Instead, Amos preaches a message of imminent destruction, including these words from chapter 8:

“The end has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again forgive them.
On that day, the people will wail the temple songs,”
says the Lord God;
“there will be many corpses,
thrown about everywhere.
Silence.” (Amos 8:2-3)

These words are not what we associate with the spirit of Christmas. They are, however, a sign of a broken world—a world that has turned from God.

While we are centuries past the incarnation, not much as changed. Many people continue to turn from God’s call to care for our neighbors (no matter their color, economic status, or country of origin), focusing instead on our own needs. We have sinned through our individual actions (pride, greed, lust, etc) and the systems we support especially those that perpetuate oppression of any kind including, but not limited to, racism and sexism. And we have committed acts of injustice intentionally and through our ignorance. What we don’t know, or choose to acknowledge, can actually hurt others.

Our world is broken.

People are broken.

It is out of our own brokenness that we recognize our need for a savior.  It is out of our own failure to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8) that we come to know that we need something greater than ourselves. We need God.

I thought that I had was having trouble finding the Christmas Spirit this year, but what I have discovered is that I am more fully living within the Advent season. I am waiting for God to come once more into the world as I recognize more clearly my need for something beyond myself.

I pray this holiday season that you, too, may find yourself in waiting as you realize your own brokenness and thus, your need for God. May God be with us all.

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