(Excerpt from the newsletter)
Season’s Greetings Brother,
Another year is coming to a close and it feels like there is so much left to do and so little time left to do it in. I’ve been so busy working, shopping, decorating and baking cookies that I find myself up against a firm deadline to publish this newsletter and I haven’t begun to think about what I’m going to write. I had to stop another project completely because I just don’t have enough hours in the day to spare. Life at times like this can get overwhelming, but I’ve learned that I’m not a superman. I can’t do it all. I’m not a machine. I must accept that not everything will get done. While I don’t have to be okay with the idea, I still need to acknowledge my limitations. I shouldn’t beat myself up or complain about my procrastination or lack of organizational skills. When I get to the heart of the matter, I know that I did my best and that things don’t always go according to plan.
I once read a quote that said, “If you don’t have the time to do it right, you certainly don’t have the time to do it over.” In the long run doing things right the first time makes more sense than hurrying through and making lots of little mistakes. But the world we live in doesn’t tend to see it this was. The pressure is on to be ‘good enough’ not perfect. Why is it then that in our walk with Christ we often strive for perfection and then beat ourselves up when we fail? In Romans 3:23 it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Even born-again Christians sin. When we are saved, we don’t automatically become perfect, just forgiven of our past mistakes. Instead with the help of the Holy Spirit we become conscious of our failings so that we can with His help address them in a continual process of improvement. Philippians 2:12 says that we are to “work out our salvation.” We won’t be perfected until we get to heaven and have exchanged the corruptible for the incorruptible (1Corinthians 15:53-55).
Busyness, multitasking, schedules, deadlines in themselves are not bad things but how they use us is. We become distracted, our focus is divided, keeping on track and finishing on time become an obsession. We lose sight of the things that are truly important. Christmas time more so than any other time of year has a reputation for this type of insanity. We can’t enjoy the holidays because we rush around trying to get things done.
“Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht” in its original German) is one of the most well-known traditional Christmas carols sung around the world.
The song is about an event that is described as peaceful, calm, and tranquil, yet majestic, other worldly and glorious. Having been in the delivery room for the birth of my daughter I can tell you that giving birth would never be described that way. If a modern birth is at best described as stressful, chaotic, and exhausting, what would it have been like to give birth to your first child far from home in a barn 2000 years ago without the assistance of anyone other than a local midwife?
The song was originally a poem written by pastor Joseph Franz Mohr and composed by his friend Franz Xaver Gruber in early 19th century Austria. Pastor Mohr desperately needed a carol for the Christmas Eve midnight mass that was only hours away, and he hoped Gruber – a school teacher as well as the church’s choir master and organist – could set his poem to music; he composed the melody in just a few hours on that Christmas Eve. This sounds more like the world we live in.
Jesus came into this world as a baby in the humblest circumstances imaginable. But while the birth of most children receives little notice, he received a royal welcome. A heavenly choir announced his coming, heralds spread the word of his birth, his earthly parents were presented with kingly gifts by foreign dignitaries, both prophets and a prophetess saw his future and a tyrant feared him. God who created man became man in order to redeem His creation. This act of love, sacrifice, and salvation in a few short years would turn the world upside down. But for one night there was quiet expectation with hope, faith, joy and peace abounding. This is why we celebrate. This is why we take time to remember the birth of our Savior. This is why we need to cut through the distractions and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Please forgive me for not sending my newsletter sooner. You are important to me and at this time of year more than most others I know how isolated and alone it can feel being in prison. That is why I pray for you. That is why I write to you. That is why I want you to have a word of encouragement. While your daily routine may not be as crazy as mine gets at times, I know you can still fall into the same traps. Don’t be distracted from practicing and perfecting your faith, but don’t beat yourself up when you fail. Remember that no man is perfect except for Jesus.
Your Brother in Christ.