I hope this finds each of you in high spirits and peak health, but if your December has been anything like mine then you may be feeling a bit run down right about now. The holidays are certainly a wonderful time but they can also be a lot of work -- ever feel like you need a vacation after coming back from vacation? Not to mention those of us who are battling illness or dealing with conflicts… for many people, “the happiest time of the year” can be pretty rough!
So I came to this week’s lectionary scriptures looking for something to bolster and empower, and my eye fell on Romans 16:25-27, Paul’s final words to the church in Rome. It’s a prayer of praise - giving glory to God - but you have to fight your way through three verses of Paul’s famous word salad to figure that out. In fact, it took me a good long while to figure out that Paul is offering praise for how God strengthens us, individually and as a church.
We are strengthened, says Paul, by four things: By the good news shared by Paul; by the teachings of Jesus the Messiah; by the revelation of a mystery (presumably the mystery of God’s self-sacrificing love); and by the command of God.
How do we know God will have our backs, will be with us even when we are bent out of shape by stress or fear or frustration? Because we know the story of Jesus and we have seen that story replayed in our own lives: God is on the side of those who suffer.
So in the midst of your celebrations and feasts, don’t forget to remember the brokenhearted. And if a low moment comes to you, too, try to pause and let yourself feel the Lord there with you in a special way. Such moments are an opportunity to remember the deep wellspring of strength that lies buried in each of our hearts because we are acquainted with Emmanuel, God With Us.
God’s strength be with you this and every day,