With the recent rises in fuel costs, I got into the habit of putting less fuel in my car! Now I know that is not logical. Half filling the tank each time looked as if I wasn’t paying so much, but obviously just meant I had less fuel to get anywhere. And this meant that little warning light above keeps coming on- get to a garage, as you have very little fuel left.
This started me musing in other areas, for it feels as if for many of us, we are spiritually running on empty. In the time leading up to Christmas, we seem to be trying to do too much, without enough resources. It is like we are trying to make up for the last two Christmases, when the restrictions of the pandemic kept us isolated. And so now we have works nights out, trying to catch up with friends, travelling to see family. We have nativity services, community lunches, charity concerts, plus Christmas cards and trees and food preparation. And this is against a background of food and fuel prices dramatically increasing, and a whole series of strikes. And temperatures of minus 7!
The strains on our society are immense just now, in terms of health and social care, in education and transport. The degree of misery and despair for some is immense, people not able to afford food or heat, in debt, struggling to find appropriate care for chronic health conditions, dealing with complex losses and bereavements.
So how can we spiritually refuel, and find any hope? Well I think the story of the first Christmas helps. Jesus was born to Mary, and to Joseph far from home, round the back of an inn amongst the animals. Things were difficult and messy that first Christmas. Yet in the midst of this, they were thankful for what they had, they trusted God, and they recognised the wonder of Jesus, the Son of God being born into the world. And the wonder of it filled their souls with joy and reverence and peace.
Maybe we need to slow down a little in Advent, and to do a bit less. It doesn’t have to be perfect. And if things go wrong, and relationships are strained, and finances are tight, simplifying things is ok. The best moments in life can be quiet moments, unexpected connections, glittery spiders webs, laughter with friends. It is being grateful for what we have, and taking time to be in the moment. It is only when we take time, then we are replenished and more able to then support others.
‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ John 1:14. This means that God understands our struggles, grief and isolation. Jesus came into this world, to remind us of the enormity of God’s love for us, so we can receive that love and live in it. And the more time we spend in worship and contemplation, the more we are spiritually replenished and renewed. So may we take time to breathe, to enjoy sparkly lights, to listen to Christmas carols, to go to church, to notice and walk in the beauty of Creation. May we let God refuel our souls, so weariness might be replaced by peace, and emptiness by love, despair by hope.
Eternal Father, you sent Your precious Son Jesus Christ into this world, our Wonderful Counsellor and Prince of Peace, to bring joy to the world. At times our heads are down and our hearts are heavy, burdened by the grief and pain of our society. Even in our lowest moments, especially in these lowest moments, come along side us, and speak to us of your love and grace and truth. Babe of Bethlehem, Child in a manger, remind us that you are our Emmanuel, and that we are never alone. May we choose to make space to find spiritual refueling, and then to find strength to live each day. Holy spirit, breath new life into us, help us to have moments to rest, to give thanks, and to self care, for You love us with an everlasting love. Bless us with your peace. Amen.