The Story

The Manger and Benediction: Reminders for this New Year

The ball dropped at midnight, the signal of my yearly urge to purge and clean and scrub. Nothing new or interesting about wanting to clean and freshen up after the holidays.  The problem comes with trying to tackle WAY TOO MUCH at one time. Get all the Christmas decorations put away and clean every surface they touched and rearrange furniture and start the new workout and that new ministry and the new eating plan and, and…and with that, a very unwelcome and uncomfortable feeling of anxiety creeps in to ruin the freshness of a new year.

Two gifts came last week as I started one thing after another, feeling like a rat spinning on a wheel. First, this image:

Untitled

A gift because after the holiday debris had been boxed up and put away…the manger remained. So many things are gone. The movie nights, the gift buying/wrapping/giving, the programs and parties, the slowing down of our family’s pace, the special plans and traveling. And yet the reason for all of it stays behind and continues to be Immanuel with us. Yes, so grateful the manger remains.

I am choosing to find a place for it to stay. Perhaps all year, for the story of the manger is one that should be celebrated every day.

The other gift was one of words. Cleaning off my desk of papers and books they rose up out of the clutter, striking something deep in this week of resolute resolutions. Something counter-cultural in the asking for discomfort and anger, tears and foolishness. I wanted to share them here as encouragement to intentionally live a good story this year. This prayer asks God for unusual blessings. To me they read like lofty goals worthy of some resolute decisions. May your 2013 be filled with surprise blessings!

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort

at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships

so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people

so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears

to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war

so that you may reach out your hand and comfort them and

to turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness

to believe that you can make a difference in the world

so that you can do what others claim cannot be done

to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Your Words Matter, Comment Kindly

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