Daily Bread Dec 14

God Isn’t Santa Claus
By Deb Crowley of Urbandale, IA, USA

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace. —Zechariah 8:16 NRSV

God isn’t Santa Claus. This reminder came early in the spring when the “perfect storm” hit our congregation. The IGA grocery store went bankrupt eliminating a primary source of income for mortgage payments. Another group renting space vacated to a different location. My husband’s full-time job ended.

Despite numerous efforts to sell or rent the space, none panned out. The question became, “Why, God? Why, when our community needs a downtown grocery, when the congregation is trying so hard to live Christ’s mission and reach out to the vulnerable, why do you seem silent? When we embrace all who enter the building with love and acceptance and are following up on every possible lead to remedy the financial stress, are you even there?”

Surely John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, must have asked similar questions. Having served as the voice preparing the way for the Messiah, John found himself in prison facing a death sentence. Jesus was preaching and teaching and healing. John sent a messenger to ask, “Are you really the Messiah?” After all, if Jesus was who John understood him to be and had the power to perform all miracles, there was no reason John should be sitting in prison!

Jesus responded in a surprising way. He simply asked John to acknowledge the ministry Jesus was doing and to have faith.

John was beheaded. Not a Santa Claus give-it-to-me-because-I-asked-for-it kind of response. In fact, people’s ultimate disappointment in Jesus as the Messiah led to his death on the cross.

But his birth, life, death, and resurrection brought hope and love back into the world.

Advent Prayer Phrase

Anticipation deepens within.

Invitation to Spiritual Practice

Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?

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