December has long been recognized as one of the busiest seasons of the year. We rush around taking care of so many details from shopping to wrapping, baking and cooking, cards and visits, while still wanting to see the lights and decorations, attend programs and parties. Our community has much to offer and many of us want to participate in it all. But of course we can’t get to every event, and we exhaust ourselves trying to meet every obligation on our to do list.
Sometimes in the hustle and bustle we forget that these are holy days for more than one faith expression. We forget to look for the sacred moments and meanings in the midst of our celebrations.
For some of us an Advent approach to Christmas reminds us of four words that can be meaningful for anyone. They are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. These are my focus this December.
In spite of the bad news we hear each day, look for hope in the good news around you. Cheer for the person with a good doctor’s report. Celebrate those giving to others in need. Cherish the child who smiles at you. Offer hope as you extend courtesy to the customer next to you, as you listen patiently to a troubled friend, as you send your greetings.
In the midst of a sometimes chaotic season, find moments of peace in the beauty of a sunset or fresh falling snow, in the music of the season or in a quiet time of reflection. Practice peace as you encourage the person who just handled a tough situation, as you call on the friend who dwells in painful memories this time of year, as you pray for the person you find annoying rather than complaining about them.
Don’t be discouraged as your schedule gets away from you. Seek the little joys of each day in the face that lights up with delight when complimented. Find joy in the contagious giggles of a child at play or a grownup whose laughter is just as playful. Experience joy in the sights and sounds, the aromas and tastes that are unique to the season. Share joy with the smile on your face, words that uplift and random acts of kindness. You’ll find the joy in your heart melting some of winter’s cold.
Look for love not only in your memories of years and family past, but in the eyes of those around you today. Search for expressions of love as if you are on a treasure hunt. Give thanks each night for every way love has been shared with you that day. If you find someone who is a bit like the Grinch or Scrooge, return a kindness for their sarcasm. If you sense a bit of these characters in yourself, intentionally do something loving for someone who is lonely or grieving. If sorrow is weighing you down this year, let love lift you up as you open yourself to receive and to share the loving kindness that is the world at its best this time of year.
May the rest of your December be filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love enough to warm your heart and to give you a good start as we head toward the new year.
Rev. Kolleen Klemmedson,
First United Presbyterian Church’s Administrative & Spiritual Life Director.