Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
I have been to one of the seven layers of hell. I went to a store on Friday night 5 minutes before closing time. There is one register open for a line of 12 people waiting to check out. Three other employees stand at registers, but no lights are on. When those waiting in line stare at them with incredulity and wide eyes they simply nod toward the open register and reply, “She’ll be right with you.” A new issue pops up with each person who finally gets to check out: “I thought these were two for three not three for five.” “Can I use this coupon on both items? No? Then I’d like to have separate transactions.” “I think there’s money on this gift card. How come it’s not working?” “Can you price match with others stores?
When I left my house that night to run to the store “for my wife” (in truth, I needed snow for my Dickens’ Village- don’t judge) I was feeling pretty Christmassy. As I stood in line, however, I started to feel a lot like Scrooge.
There is something about this time of year that lends itself to all-things-crazy. Stress levels seem increased. People are rushed. I’ve watched as cars nearly crash into one another because people are in such a hurry. I’ve witnessed people treat others with disrespect in a way that doesn’t quite add up. In my own house tensions seem to be running a bit higher. There are way more things to do, buy, decorate, and plan.
This is supposed to be a season of HOPE, LOVE, LIGHT and PEACE, but it feels more like a season of FRENZY, AGITATION, TURMOIL, and STRESS.
I suppose we can take some consolation from that first Christmas story. After all, when we really stop to think about it that event was very stressful. Mary panicked when she heard she was pregnant. Joseph nearly ran away. They had to travel to a different city. When they arrived, they discovered there was no room at the inn. Mary went into labor in a barn. When the child was born, they had to flee to Egypt because King Herod wanted him dead. We turn this story into cute pageants and plays, but in truth it must have been really difficult.
But then it happened.
In the middle of stress and anxiety and fear, Christ was born…
True peace in the middle of absolute craziness.
Everlasting life in the face of adversity and obstacles.
God incarnate in a place that once believed it had “no room”.
My guess is you’ll have your own “JoAnn Fabrics” moment this holiday season. There may come a time when Peace, Love, Hope and Light seem like the farthest thinyour life. At those times, remember this: God shows up in the midst of crazy. While it may seem like there isn’t time or room for anything else in your life right now, God will still come. And just when it feels like you’re in one of the seven levels of hell, you shall find…
Light shining in darkness.
Hope in the midst of despair.
Love offered to all people.
Peace on earth.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.