This week was filled with unexpected encounters–meaningful meetings that interrupted “my” schedule, but were part of “His” plan. I will not go into details, but those unplanned conversations caused me to slow down, to let go of my needs, and to enjoy the opportunity to listen and to counsel.
Henri Nouwen writes, “That is the great conversion of our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for his return. Our great temptations are boredom and bitterness. When our good plans are interrupted by poor weather, our peace of mind by inner turmoil, our hope for peace by a new war, our desire for a stable government by a constant changing of the guards, and our desire for immortality by real death, we are tempted to give in to a paralyzing boredom or to strike back in destructive bitterness.
“But when we believe that patience can make our expectations grow, then fate can be converted into a vocation, wounds into a call for deeper understanding, and sadness into a birthplace of joy.”
At a time when this nation debates whether to say “merry christmas” or happy holidays,” banners are already up in China with the words, “Merry Christmas.” And Marshal, our Chinese student, tells us that in Mandarin, Christmas is translated as “holy birth festival.” So, China, a nation that does not particular support religion. is willing to use the word Christmas with its religious meaning. Interesting to say the least.
Regardless of one’s religious or non religious beliefs/inclinations, celebrating the birth of Christ does give us the opportunity to consider our lives anew. God came to earth clothed in human flesh so that we could be clothed in God. What an amazing gift!
I like what Brennan Manning writes: “Christmas is the promise that the God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory. God is saying in Jesus that in the end everything will be all right. Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death; he simply stated that the kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father’s love is so extravagant that no evil could possibly resist it.”