Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Talking to Myself about Faith and Ministry in December

Aren't you tired of people asking "Are you ready for Christmas?"
They're just making conversation. It's like December's way of asking "how's it going?"
You mean to be a little less serious about everything. 
Yes, and give everyone a break, including yourself. We all have a lot on our minds, and everyone is doing the best we can.
Christmas has changed for me. I'm not doing ministry anymore. This whole month used to be really crazy, like adding another full time job.
If someone has never had to work overtime during the holidays, then you can't expect them to understand. The more you look around, the more you'll see that most people have to work on or over a major holiday or two. I'm interested in your first comment, about how Christmas has changed for you.
Our parents and family members have died. Most of our younger family has moved far away. I wanted to make a big Christmas meal, but that's hard to do for three. I feel alone.
You could consider yourself lucky you don't have to plan for 15 or 20. Be creative. You are free to do some things a little differently if you want. 
What do you mean?
Getting together is the important thing. So plan things that everyone can do and enjoy. The main thing is you do it together.
It will be different, but maybe you're right.
You're always making memories for yourself and the people you love. They can bring a smile. Sharing stories- make that your priority. That's the bread and butter of the gathering.
To change the subject, when I was in full time ministry, I ploughed ahead without much thought to those who question the Christmas Gospel. I realize that I have questions too.
If you have your doubts about how things happened in the Christmas Story, then you're certainly not alone. God comes to all of us, especially to those who have been disregarded or judged because they can't or don't believe in a literal reading.
Go on, you have my attention.
The point is, you can still believe in the story as literal and also hear a deeper message. And you can still believe in the teaching within the story even though you question the words as scientifically verifiable. They are Gospels, not hard journalism, a reality series, or twitter posts. Their meaning then and for today is what's important. And after all, Mark wrote his Gospel first-- and skipped the birth stories altogether! 
The meaning? You mean, that God actually loves us, even in the mess we're in?  What about the Israel and Hamas War? Everyone is choosing sides as if there's a moral equivalency with terrorists.  I don't think there is, just my opinion. Pray for peace, believe the Christmas message. Pray for the  release of all the hostages as soon as possible.  Pray and support those people and organizations who are trying to supply food, water, medicine and shelter. And for those who are negotiating a fair and just settlement. 
Part of what overwhelms me this time of year is everyone's hardship, even locally. There are so many calls for financial gifts.
Ask God to help you make a decision on supporting one or two worthy causes, then let go.
What about those who are counting on what I did last year. 
That was last year. Again, ask God about it.
When did the amount I spend on people start to be so important?
Since before you were born. Joyful giving is possible within limits. There's so much guilt in wondering if you did enough and stress in overspending too.
That's helpful to hear, I guess. There's just so much pressure to perform.  I don't think I will ever finish my to do list.
Now you're worrying me. Don't be afraid to ask for help now and then.
There are just some things I needed to get off my chest.
Then do it, and let it go downstream.

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