In Featured, Pastor Paul's Blog

By Pastor Paul Gauche

A Navy pilot returning to the airbase was going through the checklist for a safe landing and missed one critical step: the landing gear remained in the “up” position. Alarms went off in the cockpit and the tower began frantic calls to the pilot. But there was no response. Fire trucks and rescue vehicles were deployed to the end of the airstrip. Everyone was ready for the worst. The plane hit the runway and after a long skid, came to a stop. The plane was badly damaged, but miraculously, no one was hurt. At an inquiry following the incident, someone asked, “Why didn’t you respond to the alarm or the tower’s attempts to contact you?”

The pilot answered, “I never heard you. There was a horn blaring in the cockpit, and it was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think!”

There is often so much noise around us that we miss the most important messages. This is especially true during these last days of the Advent season as Christmas continues to emerge all around us. The din of a frantic culture trying to figure out how to safely celebrate both holidays and holy days can become so loud that it’s easy to miss the most important things.

I’ve often wondered what Bethlehem must have been like when Mary and Joseph arrived to take part in the census. With hundreds of people converging on the little village, it must have been a very hectic, busy, noisy place. When Joseph and Mary approached the innkeeper about a room they must have been aware of a certain degree of anxiety of so many people trying to buy food and find shelter. And then upon encountering “No Vacancy” sign, Mary and Joseph must have experienced their own anxiety as they moved into a cattle stall to deliver a baby.

And yet, there is a quiet power that is revealed when we read Luke 2:1-7. Go ahead and read that passage right now. It’s really not that flashy, is it? It’s pretty straight forward: there is a census. Mary and Joseph travel 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. When they arrive, Mary goes into labor and delivers her baby in a cattle stall because there is no room in the inn.

And yet, that one event has been reverberating around the globe ever since.

That one story still changes the trajectory of the lives of so many people. It can continue to change our lives if we’re willing to listen with our hearts.

So, what if we listen differently in these middle days of Advent? What if we invite a friend on a walk to truly listen to what’s going on in their life?

As we prepare to celebrated the birth of Christ again, what would happen if we focused less on giving things and more on safely sharing experiences? What if the gift you give is sharing the one thing you’re really good at: music, photography, cooking, software [Zoom, Facebook. YouTube] instruction, a listening ear, a helpful hand, a caring touch, the gift of unhindered time, the gift of presence? What if every encounter with every person becomes a meeting with Christ?

The message of Advent is that Christmas is coming. Christmas is not a thing; Christmas is a person. The person is Jesus. Did you hear that, or was the horn blaring too loudly?

Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where be blogs about a different word each day. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche), or on his blog, Thriving Rhythms.



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