I recently saw this prayer on Facebook:
God Grant Me the Serenity to Accept the People I Cannot Change, the Courage to Change the One I Can and the Wisdom to Know it’s Me.
After a good laugh, it occurred to me that Reinhold Niebuhr, the American theologian who is credited with writing the original Serenity Prayer, might have enjoyed it as well!
Over Christmas, many of us will have the opportunity to put this wisdom to work at our family gatherings.
Tensions around the pandemic have revealed fault lines in our families and extended families. Nearly every Sunday I hear from someone about the intensity of their splintered family dynamics and ongoing heartache. Differing understandings from divergent news sources contribute to divisions and cause pain among us. Vaccine or no vaccine, mask or no mask… We struggle to stay in relationship with those we love. It’s hard, and it hurts.
Advent 2021 is a time of preparation for hope and peace, joy, and love. It’s also a time when the ‘Blue’ of life’s brokenness is very real.
The Christ child is coming into our world. Our world, where siblings struggle to find common ground, where parents and children are at odds, where our hopes for how others might think and behave get dashed.
T.V. personality and host Oprah Winfrey once said, “What I know for sure is this: The big secret in life is that there is no big secret… There are no back doors… no free rides. There’s just you, this moment, and a choice.”
This Christmas, we have a choice. Use the prayer above to refocus. There’s just you, this moment, and a choice. And there’s Emmanuel, God-with-us, coming to dwell among us, right in the middle of what most perplexes us. The real meaning of Advent hope, the real meaning of Christmas, is that God is with us in our darkness, and that we are not alone.
This year, every year, Blue has a place in Christmas.
What’s the most challenging part of the above prayer for you?
-Written by Ann Palmerton
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