Published on Dec 22nd, 2014 by wpd-office | 0

This Advent season, as all of them I have been alive to see, speaks to us so powerfully of the coming of Light into darkness. Physically, the short days and long nights begin to reverse as the hours of light grow longer and the nights shorter. However, we use dark and light as metaphors for the worst of us and the best of us. And what is that darkness within us that the Light came to erase? Lately, I have been thinking being honest with and about oneself. That may be our greatest inner darkness—our reluctance, our fear, and thus our unwillingness to see honestly who we are and what is within us.

Several facts contribute to this phenomenon:

First, we cannot see ourselves as others see us, so we lack significant data about ourselves. And it is really hard to find a friend who will gently and loving tell us the truth about how we appear to other people thanks to what is unexamined inside of us.

Secondly, we forget that others cannot see what we see in our own heads and hearts. We rather think that, if we “mean well,” others can figure that out and ignore our words and actions that seem to contradict our “meaning well.”

And thirdly, we are often quite afraid, almost without recognition, that we will not measure up, that we are not worthy, and therefore, if people knew how we “really” were, they would be horrified or they would certainly not like us. This fear, which I have heard expressed many times, seems to be heightened when people have had a background of rigid rules for which they were punished and/or abused. Such a fear cannot believe that Love resides within them, cannot believe that grace can come to them for whatever is in them that is unlovely and unloving and bitter and hating and fearful and dark.

So I have experienced people living life always running from inner honesty saying that other people always are at fault, and whatever is in question cannot possibly be “my” fault. I have experienced people who are convinced that other people “do not understand them,” and therefore, what is said about them is patently untrue. And finally, I have seen that this inability to be honest with and about oneself causes persons to be excessively concerned about themselves and their appearances, and to use those appearances as their reason for face-saving lies and stories. Persons appear to put themselves and their egos at the center of the universe, even while they are terrified of being “found out” that they are not as wonderful and perfect as they wish to appear.

Four things came to me as I contemplated these observations

  1. The words of Jesus: “and you will know the truth , and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 NRSV) “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25 NRSV)
  1. The words of Shakespeare from the play Hamlet: “This above all — to thine ownself be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” (Polonius, Act 1, Scene 3)
  1. The words of my mother: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

This is the season of Advent—the coming of the Christ Child into the world, the coming of light into darkness, the coming of the message banishing fear by grace and peace. And with the coming of this Child, in quiet, unseen ways, the world is changed.

This was the Child who is Love Incarnate in us.

This was the Child who is grace upon grace for all the unloveliness of humanity.

This was the Child who would, as the greatest demonstration of his power, stoop to wash feet in the manner of the humblest of servants, and was and is unafraid of “what others would think.”

This was the Child who submitted to the pain and humiliation of a cross and then strode free and sunlit and eternal from the open mouth of an empty tomb as a promise to us that beyond all we find inside that is dark and painful, we can let that die and then, we, too, can be free and sunlit.

This is, therefore, the Child whom we call Savior, and he does indeed save us from the worst of ourselves to the best of ourselves.

This is the Savior who lives in us as Love, if we welcome him.

This is the Savior whose very nature is love and grace.

We no longer need to live an unexamined, fearful life. We can look, as best we are able, at our actions and our words and how they are seen and felt by others. We can have the largeness of heart to apologize when that can remedy the situations, knowing that we are the better for it. We can be true to the love that is within us, the grace that has been given us, and we do not have to hide or put on a false face, or blame somebody else or be false to anyone else. We can change to share the love and grace with other people.  We can take ourselves out of the center of our universe and step aside to minister to others first, and thus save our lives. We shall be free to live a life of meaning and joy! Sounds like the best Christmas Gift of all!!! Merry Christmas!

Sonja Griffith
District Executive Minister

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