One of the things we can all learn from this pandemic is how insanely connected our world is. An outbreak in Wuhan China can spread with frightening speed around the globe, shutting down whole countries and grinding international commerce to a halt. It is commerce that we need, commerce that plays with the stock market, which plays with our retirement plans, which effects our stress levels, which causes anxiety and fear. So, we stay home, but in staying home we fail to read a book or play card games with the family, no we turn on the internet and read the global news as we text our friends and facetime with our family members. We are bound up in the lives of others in ways never imagined a decade or so ago. We are more connected, more dependent, more aware of a world far outside of ourselves than ever before.

I feel genuinely sorry for people who do not go to a church that follows the old church calendar. Not that it will necessarily make the preaching better or ensure the handing over of the gifts of God, but as an organizing principle the movement of seasons and times throughout the year gives us something powerful, something beautiful, something to help drive our attention and focus. Could you imagine not having the season of Lent?

In the middle of the night, that’s when I fear unlove. Whatever light shone during the day, its not guaranteed that it will come back again in the morning. I wonder on my pillow if I did the right thing, said enough words, made my warmth accessible enough to you. I wonder in the darkness if you will be kind to my vulnerability, patient with my emotions, present in the raw moments.

We live in a world where a person who admits their sins and weaknesses is considered cowardly and weak. To actually say one is wrong is often viewed as a sign of frailty and feebleness. Why? Much of it is pride; and for those who are proud they see themselves as strong and ambitious and are willing to trample over anyone in their path for the sake of progressing oneself for any number reasons. Because of this public opinion, popularity, and the so-called “career” are the very things by which we find ourselves being defined. We think we must be strong candidates in these three classifications to show signs that we are winning at the “game of life.” These “successes” are how we show the family, friends, the world, even God that we are worth something. Everything hinges on what people think of us, how well they like us, and how good we are at our jobs – or at least that it appears that we are performing our professions well.

The evergreen dresses in her stunning Christmas sparkles. Ginger and cinnamon waft from the warm Christmas oven. The family gathers close to the bright Christmas fire, but a guilt-ridden question hangs over our head. Carols sing sweetly in the white Christmas cold. Little toys hang from the tall Christmas tree. Candles and friends and family light up the dark Christmas evenings. But, somewhere in the middle of Christmas wreaths and gingerbread houses, we struggle with the Santa Claus conundrum. Should our Old Jolly Friend visit our Christian household on that blessed Christmas Eve?

There is something wonderful about going home at the end of a day. To leave behind the world with its unpredictability, with its stresses and struggles, and return home, to the predictable, the familiar, the comfortable. It is a joyful thing. To kick off your shoes and relax in your favorite place to sit. To zone out in front of the TV or whatever screen of choice you like the best. It is something we often look forward to throughout the day. The comfort of your home is legendary, at least to you,

I had a counselling session last week. During this particular meeting, the conversation eventually came to the world being an awful, fallen place. The world sucks. After we finish our session, my counselor typically walks me to the door of the facility we meet in – that way he can see if his next counselee has arrived yet. This time, as he did so, we continued the conversation and, eventually, he gave me a simple, yet profound saying to sum up what we as human beings need to do, especially as Christians: Embrace the suck.