The Greatest Gift



December 6, 2014
The Greatest Gift.  By Marta McLaughlin
Scripture: Psalm 116
“I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Psalm 116:1
An advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.  The season of Advent is about such a coming and the first week focuses on hope.  For some, the greatest hope may be that a partner or parent was able to get that impossible gift during the black Friday sales.  The coming they await is the opening of the gift that will change their life or bring love or happiness, at least for a time.  For some, the greatest hope may be to survive anguish, distress, sorrow or desperate circumstances or to experience unexpected mercy.

This season brings out the best and worst in humankind.  Many people give more time and money to charitable causes, go out of their way to be kind to and help others and think of their relationship with God more frequently than at other times of the year.  Many people, however, feel overwhelming sadness, loneliness and despair, often magnified by the season’s expectation of joy, community and abundance.  Some people trample each other to get a good deal.   Some focus on the material things they want rather than being grateful for what they have.  Some feel frustration and anger due to the crowds in the stores and on the roads; due to the difficulty of finding just the right gifts for the people they want or feel obligated to buy for, or due to the pressure of creating a picture-perfect, continuously happy and joyful holiday experience for everyone they encounter.

Advent is a time to anticipate, wait and hope for the greatest gift:  God's coming into the world and into our lives in a new way and the coming of His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.  Before we remember and celebrate God's coming through his son Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago, we witness the world as it is and hope for God's will to be done on earth in our time.  We hope to be alert, aware, prepared and a part of that coming and that creation.
Prayer:  Gracious, loving God, nurture our hope this holiday season.  Hear us, oh God, when we cry for mercy. Show us compassion.  Reveal to us, oh God, how we may faithfully respond to your mercy and compassion in the presence of your people: the joyful, the hurting and the stressed.  Bring us closer to you and to your people. Help us to be alert, aware and prepared for your coming.  Amen.

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