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Confession at Christmas

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The coffee shop streams with people coming and going this cool December morning on the last day of 2012. The lady to my left works a crossword puzzle. The couple to my right discusses the political anger that seems to abound in our culture. One girl reads her Bible. One couple quietly communicates with hand gestures back and forth, back and forth.  A lady in the corner sits in front of her computer, looking at her iPhone and listening to something (music or otherwise) on her bright red headphones. I love the color red.

Barristas scurry from sink to coffee machine to cash register. All the while swapping stories, sharing smiles and greeting incoming customers. The room buzzes with a white noise that helps quiet me as I read and pray.

The opening sentence in the Daily Office for today reads, “Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11)

I sit back and reread these words.

“Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11)

Again.

“Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11)

I keep hearing the words from Pope Benedict XVI in his book, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.” He points out that the angel addresses Mary with the Greek word “chaire instead of the Hebrew word “shalom.” This Greek word means “Rejoice.” Benedict writes,

“Joy appears in these texts as the particular gift of the Holy Spirit, the true gift of the Redeemer. So a chord is sounded with the angel’s salutation which then resounds throughout the life of the Church. Its content is also present in the fundamental word that serves to designate the entire Christian message: Gospel— good news.”[1]

I am struck by the immediacy of the address. The angel address Mary and the shepherds with this immediate command. “Rejoice.” Today, this very moment, heaven has broken into earth. Christ is come. The world is changed. Rejoice! In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Today is the day of salvation!” Today.

This word jolts me awake. For the Good News has come to me here, this moment at Starbucks, in the midst of many movements, I am stilled by the Word that raises my soul to life. “Rejoice!” Even as I rejoice, I hear the call to confession.

“Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.”

Here is my feeble confession to the Good News that is too good to be true but still is true:

Lord I confess I am dead to the life-shattering news of Emmanuel.

I confess I my ears have been dulled by the distracting roar of my heart’s strivings for vain pursuits and I have failed to hear the Good News.

I confess that I’ve been blinded by lesser lights and I have failed to behold your Glorious Light and my desperate darkness.

I confess that I’ve reduced the coming of our Lord to a distant event in the ancient past or uncertain future, and I have failed to realize that Christ is come today and today is the day of salvation.

I confess that the Good News fails to echo in my soul with the fire of joy, so my joy dissipates in lesser loves and momentary delights.

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Fire my soul, my mind, my heart, my body with the news that is ever New and the Word that is ever Present. In your grace, let me hear and respond to this Word Today, to the birth of Jesus, the One who lived, died and rose again. To the Lord Jesus Christ who ever intercedes for me and all creation before the Father in heaven. To the Savior Who is present by His Spirit and is Filling all things to the Fullness of Your Glory.

[1] Pope Benedict XVI (2012-11-21). Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (Kindle Locations 369-372). Image. Kindle Edition.

Image thanks to Avondale Pattillo UMC via Creative Commons.

Categories: Christmas
  1. December 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I have spent the week after Christmass+Christ mass celebration in prayer for my partners,
    who have suffered abuse,and persecution,at the hands of family and friends,and illnesses
    that have plagued them…We all need to enter into rest,and seek His Kingdom First,Change
    is coming to America,and we need to be prepared to serve ‘,in His strength…not our own…..Phil.1:3-5,Shalom!Linda

    • December 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Yes Linda, I agree with your. May the good news of God’s appearing, fill the lonely and hurting with peace and joy and hope.

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