“What do you want for Christmas?” That’s a question that has been buzzing around my house. Dave and I and our daughters and their families have been making up our Christmas lists. My Fitbit is falling apart and I would like a replacement. This will be my 64th Christmas and honestly “what I want for Christmas” lists have become routine. We do love Christmas at our house and we will all gather Christmas morning and share a meal and then open presents. And it will be wonderful to be together, but the exchange of things has worn a bit thin for me.
This morning in prayer that question “what do I want for Christmas?” surfaced. And I found myself asking “what do I want for Christmas from God?” Rather than asking my family or Santa for something special under the tree, what do I need from God this year?
The answer came surprisingly quickly. Courage. Living in this world this year seems especially tough. I want courage.
I want the sort of courage that Joseph and Mary had, to do what needed to be done.
I want courage to lead my church.
I want courage to preach the truth that we are deeply loved and that it is the love of God and our love for one another that makes life livable.
I want courage to listen to hurting persons.
I want courage to let go of things and values that are not of God.
I want courage to use my voice to speak out against evil. I want courage to use my feet to take me to the places where I can serve. I want courage to use my hands to make a difference in the lives of others. I want courage to do what needs to be done, even if it is unpopular.
I want courage to say “I need…” when my body and spirit needs rest and renewal.
Mary and Joseph lived lives that changed the world. Through their courage, Christ entered the world. This was all quite disruptive to the powers of the day. Living lives of faithful courage is disruptive. So I will need the courage to face the consequences too.
The Christmas tree is up and sparkling at our house, and there are already gifts under it. I am looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and my church. Christmas morning we will gather for breakfast together and we will unwrap presents and “ooh” and “aah” our lovely gifts.
But I am thinking and praying about Christmas beyond December 25th. What lasting gifts will God offer this year?
Good and Holy God, I want courage for Christmas. But you know better I what I need. This Christmas and all the days beyond, give me what you will that I might fully live. Give me what you want me to share with the world. In the name of the one who came to us both in a manger and on the cross, amen.
Advent blessings to you all,
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
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This Sunday we continue our sermon series Not The Christmas We Would Have Planned. That first Christmas was certainly a surprise to Mary! The angel Gabriel tells her the big news: she is going to have a baby. Her response: “how can this be?” This is not the direction she thought her life would take. Rev. Lee Schott will be preaching. Pastor Lee is the pastor of Women at the Well, a United Methodist congregation inside Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. Read Luke 1:26-38 to prepare.
And following worship: Q and A with Pastor Lee Who is in prison? What is life like there? What does it mean to be a church inside a prison? Fromin the café, Pastor Lee will share what she has learned serving at Women at the Well.
And of course—join us for Night Live dinner at !