peace with background bokeh

One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to put together the Advent devotional book that the church I work at produces every year. It is a really amazing resource filled with devotions written by members of the congregation. This year, I was asked to write a devotional for one of the days, one that I thought I would also share with you here. It echos a similar holiday sentiment to what I wrote about on this blog four years ago, here.

As a child, Christmas Eve was magical. My sisters and I would spend the day being the honorary “present wrappers” for anyone who needed last-minute gifts wrapped. There would be a fire in the fireplace, Christmas music on the radio, and my mom would be in the kitchen cooking up our favorite spaetzle recipe. Once our bellies were full and all presents were wrapped, we would pile in the car to head up the road to my Mamaw and Papaw’s house, where homemade sweets, warm hugs, and piles of presents my shopping-loving grandmother had carefully chosen were waiting for us. Still to this day I have never met a better shopper than my Mamaw – she had an amazing ability to pick out things you never knew you wanted, but ended up loving and treasuring for years.

When I was fifteen, my Mamaw unexpectedly passed away in her sleep one September night. Since then, Christmases just haven’t been the same. My family has grown up, grown apart, and formed individual families of our own. Christmas has lost a bit of its sparkle. I know the real reason to celebrate is one of joy – the wonderful birth of our Lord and Savior – but no matter what, every Christmas Eve, a tinge of sadness still comes over me, not at the loss of the enchantment that Mamaw’s gifts used to bring, but because it is another Christmas Eve to put childhood memories behind me and move on without my Mamaw.

Prayer: Lord, today we pray for those who are going through tough times during this Christmas season- dealing with the loss of a loved one, changes in family or traditions, or for any other reasons for experiencing grief during this otherwise joyful time. Help us to find the joy and peace that only You can bring. Amen.

Christmas is generally a wonderful and joyous time. But it can also be a time of hurt and heartache. Many are struggling through difficult times during this season. Dealing with health issues, family dramas, financial problems, the loss of a loved one, endless sources of stress and sadness.

But we also have hope. We have the ability to have peace. I ask that this Christmas season, amidst all the hustle and bustle and joy and merry-making, you say a prayer for those who might be struggling for whatever reason. Pray that we all find the joy and peace that only God can bring.

“I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.” -John 14:27

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