The Greatest of All Blessings

As I sit to write this article, I am in my office. It is early evening, but late enough for most of the staff to have gone home. I am alone, and except for the Christmas music I have playing in the background, it is quiet. It has been a full day, complete with sermon preparation, meetings, phone calls, visits to the hospital, letters to write, emails to answer, and a walk through the sanctuary and administrative area to see what progress is being made toward the completion of our building project.
In my mind, I know before this day comes to an end I need to write this article, answer more emails, and there are a couple of calls I still have yet to make tonight. I know December 25th is coming all too quickly and there is still so much to do to make sure all the bases are covered for the 12 services we have between now and Christmas Eve; not to mention some Christmas shopping I have yet to finish.
However, as I let my body fall into my chair at my desk, I allow myself a moment to just stop and push everything out of my mind. For this moment, I will not “do” anything; I will simply “be.” In theological terms, we refer to all of our doing as “missiological” and our simply being as “ontological”. Both are needed, but often those of us who call ourselves Christians are all consumed with the missiological work of the Church and we forget the importance of the ontological side of our faith.
That is a mistake. To fill our lives with “doing,” without first taking time to just “be” leads to one of the most common and yet one of the greatest dangers facing those of us who are followers of Christ. It leads to the sin of “shallowness.” To a faith that is no deeper than a puddle of water that has collected after a rainstorm. To a faith that runs around full of busyness, but that does not allow space for the grace of Christ to do its transformative work in our lives.
Obviously, the reverse is also true. All “being” without “doing” leads to a faith without works and as James reminds us, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:17). So, as I say, both are needed, but at this time of the year, I find more people tend to forget about the ontological than the missiological.
But back to the point: This evening as I sat and stopped, God’s grace covered me like a warm blanket on a cold night. In the few brief moments of quiet, I heard Johnny Mathis singing “Silent Night, Holy Night,” and my mind was suddenly transported back two thousand years to the humble surroundings of the manger stall when the Incarnation became a reality. In my mind, I could see the animals, smell the surroundings, hear the cry of a baby and see the child that would change everything. And in that moment, I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude; not so much for all the blessings that are mine (and I have more than I could ever count) but for the greatest of all blessings… the gift of a Savior who loves us and gave himself for us so that we might know the life that is possible through him.
So, today, whatever you have to do, however important it might be to get it done, regardless of the pressure you might feel, I urge you to find at least a moment to stop, push everything else out of your mind, and simply ponder the King of kings who was rich, but who for our sake became poor so that by his poverty, we who are spiritually poor might become rich.
If you do so, I suspect you will find that “moment apart” will put everything else into its proper context. I know I did!