December 30, 2020

Presbyterians Today, PC(USA)
Advent Christmas Devotionals 2020
"Let Us Light Candles"
The 12 Days of Christmas
O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. 

Psalm 139:1–6
Angels still dance with joy
I held the tiny pink felt Christmas stocking with an angel clothed in blue felt glued onto it. It was the stocking an aunt on my mother’s side made for me on my first Christmas. Some 50 years have passed since it was thumbtacked onto our wooden TV console because we never had a fireplace mantel to hang our stockings on.

I eventually graduated to a bigger Christmas stocking. The pink baby one was packed away, soon forgotten until the year my mother gave it to me, along with other childhood memorabilia overflowing in a box. That warned me there were more boxes to come. She and my dad were decluttering their house.

Since then, I find myself every Christmas retrieving the stocking from the bottom of the ornament box and wondering: “Was I really once that little? What was put inside the stocking my first year of life? Should I hang it on the fireplace mantle I now have as an adult?” Some years, I hang it up with a bit of nostalgia in my heart. Some years, I don’t. Those are the years I find a tear falling down my cheek thinking about the children I never had.

This year, though, I held the stocking in my hands a little bit longer than usual. I found myself taking a prayerful pause as I stared at the blue felt angel on the stocking. I remembered a song I had heard on some Christian radio station once about how the angels dance around God’s throne at the birth of a baby and how they will dance again the day we return home to God.

Angels danced for joy over me being in the world? I never really thought about it. But now with the angel staring back at me, I wondered: “Have I lived my life so far for God? Have I done my best in reaching to the least of these — the lonely, the hungry, the captives, the naked? Are angels dancing with joy at the life I am leading now? What about the God dreams in my heart that are so uncertain and scary I just don’t follow them? What about those crazy ideas to do some things — things so against what the world says we should do — that I ignore them? Are the angels dancing each time I whisper to myself that I am too old to do something or that I don’t have what it takes to tackle a dream?”

Howard Thurman knew how much God loves us. Thurman knew deep down that each of us is indeed God’s beloved. God, Thurman knew, sees our potential. And so, Thurman advised that each time we doubt our abilities to shine brightly, we should pray, “God make me big.” “And then a strange thing happens. Strength comes from somewhere. Deep within the task, something is released that eases the load; and the quality of your performance pervades your spirit with the assurance that God has answered,” said Thurman.

Yes, the angels danced when you came into this world. They will dance again when you return home. But until that day, don’t ever stop living boldly for God.

God, my prayer is short and simple: make me big. Help me to glorify you this day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Go deeper
Reconnect with your inner child. What gave you joy when you were younger? What are some dreams that you have let go of that still dance in your mind? It doesn’t matter how old you think you are. With God, all things are possible. Today, dream, act and live with great faith.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009