English: The loneliness of Culloden Culloden is one of the few areas that I leave feeling full of sadness. This lonely tree at the sight says it all. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Everyone experiences loneliness and isolation. Some people experience it more than others. They may have a greater need to be connected to others, or they may have lost and never a significant connection in their lives. Some are lonely because there are not other people around. Others are lonely because they have a sense of isolation even though they are in a crowd. I suspect that a lot of our loneliness is about the sense of connection we have to other people.
Shepherds are often alone, even today. They face a great deal of isolation as they care for the sheep. Maybe that is why they were invited to the birth of Jesus. God chose to reach out to those who were isolated and alone. God chose to share with them because God wants to offer to all a connection to something more. God wants us to know, especially those of us who are lonely and isolated, that we do not have to be alone. We are invited into God’s story. God wants us there are God interacts with humanity. God wants us to be a part of something more.
This Advent and Christmas, realize that God is with you. Invite others to be a part of the experience of God.
This fall has been full of the unexpected. Most of the unexpected things were painful things. While there were many positive moments, the reality is that things have changed this fall. Family members now have medical conditions that will never go away. Another family member died. In all the difficulties of this fall, I have realized that I have a choice. We all have a choice. We can stay where we are, wishing for what once was, recalling the better days of the past, and playing the “if only” game, or we can move forward. This does not mean that we should not take the time we need to grieve, regain health, or accept our new situation, but it does mean that there is a point when we need to choose our next steps.
I am choosing to move forward. I am preparing for Christmas. I am not just buying presents, baking, and decorating, but I am preparing my heart. Each year we are given this season of preparation prior to our celebration of Jesus birth. It is not just a celebration of what happened in the past, but it is a next step. It is an opportunity for Jesus to be birthed in our lives in a new and powerful way. It is a next step in our lives as we grow in God’s grace.
No matter what your fall or year has been like, I hope you will join me in moving forward. I hope you will join in preparing yourself for the birth of Jesus, celebrating the new life that is offered to all of us. We are moving forward.