Stilling the Chaos

Dear Friends,

A couple of years ago, in the week right before Christmas, Brenda and I were meeting another couple for dinner. I don't know who chose the restaurant, but even before we got there, we realized it had been a mistake. It was right in the middle of one of the busiest retail areas in Pittsburgh, especially at Christmas, shopping central for many at that time of year. We waited in a long line of traffic, taking our lives in our hands to make a left turn into the place, feeling a sense of accomplishment by only being 15 minutes late, even though we had left early.

At the same time, we had been listening to the news of the day on the radio. I forget the details, probably another assassination somewhere in the world, or terrorist attack, or political standoff in Washington, DC. What I do remember is that all of it together left me with a gloomy and depressed feeling.

I let Brenda out at the door, and then parked. As I walked toward the entrance, I realized that there must be a church nearby. I knew this because I heard carillon bells that were playing a familiar melody: "The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord?" It was a bit incongruous, because it wasn't a Christmas carol. But it reminded me stronger than any other tune would have probably that Jesus wasn't just the reason for the church, he is the reason, as they say, for the season, and the reason for every good thing in my life.

Suddenly it seemed as though the commotion of the cars and trucks going every which way was silenced, and the depressing headlines, too. Literally all I could hear were those bells. The noise and the news were eerily stilled for just a little while.

Which leads me to say that the message of Christmas has the capacity to infiltrate our busyness and racket and gloom, and elevate us into a more spiritual reality. It can call us to something higher, even in the midst of all that is going on. The good news of Jesus Christ can provide perspective and set our priorities and give us direction.

It's been a chaotic, unpredictable and extraordinary year, but my prayer for you this week is that you will hear those bells, even if only faintly, among the noise and news, and experience, even if only briefly, a savior who has come to bring you love and grace and hope.

Merry Christmas.

Pastor Duane