Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
Well, it’s that Schroedinger’s cat time of the year: simultaneously the Christmas season and not. Advent doesn’t officially start until Sunday, but you’d never know from the ubiquitous carols, commercials, and gift guides.
Me? I’ve had Christmas on the brain since September. In my extended family, gifts tend to be lovingly homemade. This is good because handmade gifts are beautiful, personal, and require zero time standing in line on Black Friday, but it can be a little intimidating to those of us who are less craftily gifted. Sometimes I worry about my gifts being good enough. When someone spends hours if not days of their life hand making you a quilt, a pair of socks, or 1,000 paper cranes (yes, these are real examples), you want to make sure they won’t receive something lame in return.
The only thing is, even if I started the previous January, there would be a limit to the kind of gifts I could give. Not to say that the gifts we exchange are worthless, but they won’t last forever. At best, they are mere tokens of our love, physical symbols of something much deeper.
What I really wish I could give my friends and family is, simply, peace. Not peace as in the absence of conflict (although in some cases that would be a great first step), but true security, hope, and freedom. This isn’t something I can make with my hands, but it’s the only thing worth having. So on behalf of those I love, I’m going to ask for the real gift.
For my friends who endure physical suffering, sickness, and disability, I pray for peace from above.
For my friends who are the primary source of unconditional love and support for children and others who need care, I pray for peace from above.
For my friends whose holidays are defined by painful memories or loneliness, I pray for peace from above.
For my friends who are nearing retirement age and are worried about the security of their future, I pray for peace from above.
For my friends who are struggling with finding their life’s calling or starting a family as their hearts desire, I pray for peace from above.
For my friends who are bearing financial burdens this holiday season, as well as those who feel burdened by their own and other people’s expectations, I pray for peace from above.
And I pray for myself, that God would make me willing, able, and ready at any moment to be present for my friends with a compassionate heart. That he would give me eyes to see and ears to hear those who find themselves in need this season. Most of all, that my prayers would not be empty words, but that God would give me a spirit of powerful love and self-discipline to help make peace happen.
What are your needs and wishes this holiday season? Could you use some peace? I know I could…