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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  1. Rosemary Tolliver December 15, 2021 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    The Serenity Prayer has been my go-to prayer for a very long time and I’m keeping this new version — thank you! My girls will tell you that they’ve heard me say, “There’s only one person you can control — and that’s on a good day!” But it’s easier said than done, huh?

  2. Annette Kuss December 15, 2021 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Courage to change….easy to say but oh so hard to do. Relax and “Let It Be” will be my mantra this season.

  3. Betty Lou Stull December 15, 2021 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    I think change is difficult at any age, but particularly difficult in old age. That’s probably because of the tendency to wallow in good memories of a past that no longer exists. Openness and transparency are challenges at any age, however. Thanks for a thought-provoking blog.

  4. Chris Johnson December 17, 2021 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Oh My…. THIS!!!! Ann, you are a wonder and we all love you so. THANK you for this!

  5. Barbara Blanke December 18, 2021 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    If only I had wisdom. I don’t always recognize it’s me.

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