“. . . what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (from the prophet Micah)

This is a season of lists.  Santa Claus is not the only one who is making a list and checking it twice.  I know that I am making all kinds of lists in this season and I am checking them constantly.  There is the list of people for whom I need to buy presents.  There is the list of people to whom I want to write thank-you notes.  There are my shopping lists.  And because it is sometimes hard to keep track of all of these lists, I have a list of lists to help me keep it all straight.

There are satisfactions in keeping lists.  It can give us the feeling—the illusion, really—that life is more orderly than it really is.  Making lists can make us feel like we are more or less in control of our own destinies, that we can construct our own lives along the outlines of our to-do lists.

But have you noticed that the most important things in life never seem to make it onto the to-do list?  Think about the items on a typical to-do list:  wrap the presents, mail the package, pick up the turkey, write the check.  Expand the list and it still doesn’t add up to much of a life.  Notice what is missing from our to-do lists.  The prophet Micah, in this wonderful phrase, says we are to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.  Those are the sorts of things that make for a rich and full life.  But how often does anything like that make it to the list?

When we focus so intently on our preparations in this season, it can almost seem like Christmas is something we plan and make happen when, in reality, what we celebrate in this season is something we never could have planned and only God could make happen—the inbreaking of God into our world in a most surprising way, in the birth of Jesus.

Distract us from our to-do lists, O God, so that we may see and celebrate what you are doing.  Amen.

–by Martin B. Copenhaver, from StillSpeaking


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