Peace in the Canned Goods Aisle
And suddenly, the great armies of Heaven appeared with the Angel, while shouting praises to God, and they were saying: “Glory to God in Heaven, and upon earth peace, Good News to the children of men.” (Luke 2:13-14)
Peace at Christmas? You’ve got to be kidding.
The Christmas season takes the crazy of my normal day, wraps it up with a strand of stress and ties a big, frazzled bow on top.
It picks up my List of Things To Do and multiplies it by tradition to the power of insanity . . . and then highlights it with a manic marker. By the 25th, my tree is lit up with strings of lunacy. My stocking holds a good-sized pile of “pooped”.
Peace is usually delivered to somebody else’s house.
But one year, just a few days before Christmas, I was standing in the grocery store about 10 p.m. searching frantically for a can of oysters . . . a can of oysters that I needed to make oyster casserole . . . the oyster casserole that nobody actually likes but is a tradition at my family’s Christmas dinner . . . the family dinner that I was serving the next day at my house . . . the house that I had scrubbed and spit-polished so 20ish people could clutter it up with Christmas chaos . . . the same kind of chaos that had cluttered every second of Christmas up to that point.
I heard myself panicked and praying, “Lord, I need oysters. Just one can. Just one, Lord. It’s okay if they are expired. We’re not going to eat them anyway.”
Then I found it! A can of oysters!!
My prayers became praises, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Christmas is complete.”
A bit dramatic; but I blame it on fatigue . . . which disappeared with a new thought.
“Christmas . . . Oh, crap!! It’s almost Christmas, Lord, and the only thing I have thanked You for is a can of oysters. I’ve let the whole season go by without acknowledging the birth of Jesus.
And . . . there they were. Guilt, failure and self-condemnation . . . come to visit for the holidays . . . and carrying baggage like they intended to stay a while.
Then, God came down to meet me in the canned goods aisle of the IGA a few days before Christmas. And He said, “Child! . . . Chill!!”
“So . . . you haven’t thanked Me . . . and you reviewed your shopping list during every sermon in December . . . and you didn’t bake Jesus a birthday cake. . . and you fell asleep before Linus recited the Christmas story to Charlie Brown.”
“I don’t care.”
“You hung onto the hem of my robe just to survive the season. You never let go. You did good.”
Then my soul found it . . . for a moment . . .
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” (John 14:27)
If this story sounds familiar, it is because I wrote it a few years ago and posted it on my first blog site. But again, I find myself overwhelmed by Christmas. And again, God finds me in the midst.