Advent Devotion Week 4 – “Life is a Gift”

The Narrative Lectionary readings are as follows:
Sunday, 23rd: Luke 1:26-45 (Announcement of Jesus’ Birth to Mary)
Christmas Eve: Luke 2:1-20 (Birth of Jesus)

I can’t take it anymore.

It has been a rough Advent season for me to this point. There is a lot of saddness and tragedy affecting me, both personally and in the world. And that’s enough for me, on its own. In light of so many things, the response we get….is a war of words.

A war over gun rights and gun control.
A war between conservative and liberal Christianity. You can sense it in commentaries. And in statements like this: God in Schools (2)

I hate that this kind of stuff bothers me when normally, it doesn’t. But I can’t take it anymore. Not when I lost a dear mentor of the faith last week. Not when I learned that a seminary classmate and friend lost his long battle with cancer this morning. Not when I think of all the kids and families not just in Newtown, CT, but around the world, that experience tragedy and pain every day.

As I read these readings for the 4th week in Advent and for Christmas Eve, I think about these unlikely pregnancies, and Christ’s humble birth into a tumultuous world, and I think about what God might be speaking to us through these well-known stories today.

And for me, all I can think about is my older sister and her newborn son, born just about a month ago….I think about how for a couple years she and her husband tried to concieve a new life – and not being able to time and time again – and then, as they decided to give in vitro fertilization a try, they received the news: they had conceived life on their own. And now, in all her fear and wonder, she holds this brand new, delicate life in her hands. And I watch my sister with great joy as she experiences this for the first time, knowing just how precious this life is to her…..a gift.

Life is a gift. Did you ever stop to think about that? Life is a gift from God! And it’s a delicate and fragile one at that – the world has been telling me that pretty straight up this past couple weeks. And human life is so precious to God, that he is willing to take on the very form of humanity as well, willing to risk taking on its delicateness and fragility, subjecting himself to the pain, suffering, and death of being human so that we may also know the joy, the value, of wonder of life – life that God alone gives, life that God creates “in his own image, both male and female, he created them.”

That is the good news for this week of Advent, and the good news of Christ’s humble birth into this world for us today: a reminder, and proclamation to us from God, that God gives life as a gift. God is with us when the frailty of that gift becomes a reality in our lives, and God promises that this gift of life is everlasting in relationship with him.

There will be a time to debate gun control, and a time for theological debate. But for now, in light of God’s good news, the only thing that comes to me is, “Life is a gift.” Christ is our Light in this world, shining in our hearts and in all dark places, revealing to us the truth about life in this world, and revealing to us perhaps, just how important life is to God – our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of all people in this world.

Life is a gift. That said,

I think I’m gonna hug my wife a little tighter today,
text and call friends and family, and check in on them,
go workout with one of my wrestlers today,
honor lost brothers in Christ in my own way,
give thanks for their witness to me,
and hope my life points to and witnesses to Christ’s light working in their lives, and in this world, that
Life is a precious gift from God.

And hopefully, that’s enough.



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