Christmas 2021: Gritty – not some airbrushed Hallmark tableau

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus: from John and Matthew
NC writer Derek Maul

This weekend I carried my camera and tripod around the house, looking for a good place to shoot the “official” family newsletter photo. I finally settled for a frame that included way too much “noise” for the classic Christmas card, but the exactly correct amount for something representing 2021 – this disjointed, messy, pandemic, frustrating, gritty, nowhere near picture-perfect year.

Yet, sitting in the middle of it all, I can see that I am surrounded by evidences of God’s love, examples of grace, pinpoints of light, stories of hope, scenes of peace.

I took a couple of images of myself to help calibrate the light before committing to this spot for the family portrait. Believe me – and you will see this when I publish our Christmas letter – the picture is immeasurably improved when I add Rebekah and Max.

My point this morning is that reality, with all of its imperfections, is where we find ourselves. Not some artificial, carefully staged, airbrushed Hallmark movie set but our actual lives; and, right now, a lot of us are living with some real struggle.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me,” Jesus says. “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Take heart; grace and peace – DEREK

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