I find myself creating a spiritual checklist as Christmas approaches, wanting to make this a season of spiritual renewal. But this year, like so many years before, my checklist including Scripture readings, time alone with the Lord, and “spiritually renewing” activities has been simply a checklist that I seem to fall behind in fulfilling and brings me no closer to intimacy with God.
Tonight I am huddled up on my back porch – it’s a mild, overcast Seattle night – with my husband, a small electric heater, a good book, the smell of candles and oranges, and my sleeping bag pulled up around myself. I am reminded of the joy of simplicity. It’s quiet and I look around at our Ikea furniture and graveyard of outdoor plants and I am happy and feel intimacy with my Creator.
I am also reminded that the spiritual renewal that I thirst for this season is simply Jesus Christ. I am touched by the words of Brennen Manning:
“One of the many documented miracles that have occurred in Lourdes, France, took place in 1957. A French father took his ten-year-old son, blind from birth, on a pilgrimage from Britany to Lourdes. At the shrine, the child begged his father to pray for him. His dad prayed aloud, “Lord, give my boy his sight.” Instantly the boy could see. He looked around. He saw flowers, trees, green grass, the open sky. Then he looked into his father’s eyes, the eyes that went with the only voice he had known during ten long years of darkness and loneliness. When he saw his father, do you know what he said? “Oh boy. Everybody’s here!” This is the spirit of Christmas. Everybody’s here! The deep, passionate love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and brother, is the breakthrough of Bethlehem and the heartbeat of the Christian life.
The Abba of Jesus says:
Make ready for My Christ,
sets free the song of everlasting glory
that now sleeps in your paper flesh like dynamite.”