Wednesday, December 23, 2020

SCRIPTURE READING: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:9–12 (NIV)
Look around your home to see how many circular Christmas decorations you can find. A circle of evergreens on your front door? Maybe an Advent wreath on your dining table? A skirt wrapped around the trunk of your Christmas tree? (You mustn’t have cats!) If you found quite a few circles throughout your home, that’s not surprising. Circles are often seen as symbols of unity, even perfection. And yet, they are limited, closed.
This season, let’s consider integrating more horseshoes into our holiday celebrations. Yes, horseshoes, you read that right. Although I’m sure there are many metal renderings to be found throughout Bucks County auctions and antique shops, your horseshoes don’t need to be that literal. It’s more about the intention of widening our circles and leaving space for the unexpected—blessings in our lives or blessings we can be to others—to break in. 
To quote some wise pastor I’ve lived with for many years, “What does that look like in our lives?” When we gather together, we leave physical space for others to wander in and join us. As someone who has been a newcomer many times in my life, I’m much more welcomed by a horseshoe of people than a circle. Even with social distancing, we can watch the shape of our space and how it invites others in. How are you communicating God’s love and welcome to others? I can’t take credit for this social concept of  horseshoes—I heard it first from author and activist Glennon Doyle. But I believe the benefits of leaving space extend beyond our human interactions.
In our spiritual space, we also need to leave room for God to break in—not close our circle with everything we think we know and everything we think we need. Just as with a husband coming to you with a pastoral calling that changes your family’s life and just as with the birth of Jesus, God may bring break in with the unexpected that is just what we need, just when we need it.
If it helps you to remember to leave that space for God and others, by all means find a physical horseshoe to display somewhere prominent in your home. Symbols can help us focus on our intentions. When I google “evergreen horseshoe wreath,” I find that “it’s a thing” (as my daughter would say). So you might just see a horseshoe wreath on the parsonage’s front door.
PRAYER: Dear God, At a time of year when we want to jump ahead and close the circle to get to Christmas, help us stay open to the unexpected blessings we may find within the space and season of Advent. May we remain receptive to who and what may unexpectedly enter our hearts and to where You are calling us to go. In everything we do, may we draw closer to You and draw others closer to You while leaving space for You to constantly amaze us. Amen.     
Jennifer Leight
St. John's Ivyland
820 Almshouse Road
Ivyland, PA 18974
Rev. Brad Leight, Pastor