By Jim Allen, Editor, NuVote Reach
Image Credit: Mike Roberto
One of my beloved cousins was concerned that she was not feeling or embracing some of the outward trappings of the Christmas season this year and thought it was odd.
It touched me, put me into a reflective mood, and reminded me that I have at times gotten so caught up in the revelry of the season that I have forgotten that some of us or those around us have family members and/or friends who are sick, lonely, in deep despair, have wayward children, are in grief for lost loved ones (my own mother’s wedding anniversary is the day after Christmas, and now that my father is gone – this can’t be the most joyous time of year for her).
There are among us the homeless, the hungry, those with their electricity or gas turned off, rent or mortgage running late, unemployed or underemployed, with divorced or divorcing families, mentally or emotionally challenged family members or friends or family in rehab (or need to be) – who are trapped in alcohol, drug or sex addiction – or committed to jail or all other kinds of temporal bondage. Many have friends and family members in the military, who could be in harm’s way tonight.
We may even at times feel guilty about not dealing with, or wanting to deal with, those around us who are so emotionally and often financially draining to us.
I spent a lot of time last week in reflection with a dear friend, of strong faith, who survived the Columbine massacre (at age 14, now 28) who really opened up to me and birthed some things in me, in the context of what happened at Sandy Hook (and Columbine) – and the hand of God, or not, in something as unspeakable as that.
There are people in Sandy Hook who last week buried the bullet-riddled bodies of their babies, asking why? I can hardly type this, without welling up.
I have been struggling with my faith – a serious crisis of faith – over the past eight years, and this past Friday night, had an epiphany in a Salvation Army Thrift Store (of all places!) – while shopping for Christmas presents for the children of homeless people I don’t even know.
I FINALLY had an encounter, of sorts, a clear revelation of what is my place in this world, in the eyes of God, I believe.
Then, on Saturday, my mother’s pastor, posted this on his Facebook page: “There are days when God moves and speaks in our lives with such clarity and He speaks with such power that it becomes an unmistakable call to service. When it happens, don’t ignore it, dismiss it, nor deny that it was Him. Listen and obey. It may be the beginning of the greatest period of growth you have every known. Think on these things!”
For me, if I am not giving something or trying to figure out how to give something, I might as well be dead. If I am not in service, I may as well not exist (my bass guitar is a close second).
But that doesn’t mean we are all called to the same mission or expression, and the intensity of the manifestation of that outreach may change over time.
I say to all, please be encouraged!
All of us, and nature, operate in various cycles, you may be in a cycle of reflection, not expression this season – and to everything its season (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I wish a joyous and glorious Merry Christmas to my Christian brothers and sisters, a blessed season of observance to my many friends and family of all other faiths and peace to those of no faith.
I have engaged in debates, this year, over religious dogma – but I don’t think God resides solely within our protocols and rituals – as “obedience is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22). Sometimes, that is so tough to fathom.
I have to get busy being obedient, again – for to whom much is given.
I believe that perfection in humanity (in earthly terms) is to strive for excellence – that’s the best we can hope for, as mere men and women – because we can never be perfect.
I will try to be a better person next year (I owe a lot of apologies and seeking of forgiveness) and I will also pray for your strength of purpose – and indeed value your patience.
God bless you, or may He at least take a liking to you (smile) in this Holiday season.
It’s the night before Christmas, please be encouraged!
James O. Allen, Jr.– Jim