A series of biblical readings and prayers from David L. Miller, senior pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Naperville, IL. David is the former editor of The Lutheran magazine and Director of Spiritual Formation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
With joy you
will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:3-4)
That you may know
Joy is an inside
job. It is not the rush of emotional energy released in moments of victory or success.
Nor is it the happiness that sweeps through us when good fortune surprises. Joy
is not dependent upon outward circumstances. It is deeper, rooted in the soul.
It rises when the
heart is warmed and filled by the presence of love … of God … living within us.
This love is always there. It is our truest self. We are made in the image
of an immeasurable love.
But most days we
live far from this awareness, which is why prayer needs to be a daily, hourly,
It is also why
Christmas is central to our faith and spiritual lives. At Christmas, we meet
the transcendent God, the Infinite Love who always was and will be, coming to
us in infant form, so that we may see and know the love God is.
Seeing him, we
know: God is pleased to come to us, not to inspire fear but to awaken the love
within us that is our true nature. We, created in the image of Love, commune heart-to-heart
with the Love who made us ... and become the Love God is.
In this communion,
whether silent ... or speaking friend-to-friend, we are filled with the simple
joy of being. God fills us, as water fills a glass to overflowing, washing away
all cynicism and fear, boredom and bitterness, all greed and guilt.
All that remains is the gentle joy of being alive and knowing the Love
who is and was and is to come, the love shining in the face of Christ ... and
Strengthen the weak
hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.
I enjoy visiting people
in the hospital. It’s not that I want to see people sick or hurting, but real conversations
Most patients are
pleased to have a visitor because time and worry weigh heavily on their mind. There
is also no hiding or pretending that there is nothing wrong. So we talk. Talking
leads to honesty, and honesty leads to prayer.
It’s an intimate moment,
hands holding hands, hearts joined in hope for healing and strength. Tears sometime
appear. The grip of hand-on-hand tightens as hopes and fears are offered in
love to the God who is Love. Strength flows through held hands and buoys the
heart for whatever might come.
But what has already come
... is the God who is expressed in our flesh, as love and blessing are shared.
No one needs to ask, ‘Where is Christ?’ because Christ is right there, in our
We call it incarnation.
This is what we celebrate in this holy season: God becomes incarnate, flesh, a
body we can see and touch, know and love. In the touching, weak hands find
strength, and fearful hearts know God is present, with them.
The incarnation of God
most certainly appeared in a Bethlehem stable. Here is our God, cradled in Mary’s
arms. Jesus is the human face of the Loving Mystery we cannot see.
But the Incarnation
doesn’t stop there. It is not time limited. Incarnation goes on. The Holy One becomes
flesh to see and touch, know and love wherever and whenever Love takes on