Perhaps you know folks who share every thought they have. No matter how unhelpful or critical it might be, some just seem to have to say precisely what they are thinking. They blurt those things out and leave a wake of hurt feelings behind them as they move on, seemingly oblivious to their effect on others. Interestingly, most of those folks aren’t quite as quick to share affirmation. But they just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut when it comes to offering an opinion on how things could be better. It’s a destructive behavior.
There’s another destructive behavior which goes in a different direction and is probably more prevalent. Rather than speaking critically to someone, most of us choose to speak critically about someone. Somehow it’s more comfortable for us to say to a third party what we think of someone. A messy little triangle is suddenly formed when I come to you and say something about someone we both know. It might even be expressed as concern or a request to keep someone in prayer but it doesn’t feel quite right. Such comments actually serve to put distance between us and the person we’re talking about. It dishonors the person and causes us ultimately to think less of the person. And it’s unfair to the person we’re talking to. If I tell you I wish someone else would do something differently, there’s not much you can do about it, plus now you have to deal with my comments and whether or not to share them with the other person. Sometimes we share criticism with a third party in the hopes that they will take it to the person, imagining it is somehow their responsibility or they may be better able to bear the message. That never really works out too well.
Or course there’s an alternative. Rather than just blurting out every critical thought we have or triangulating another, we can go directly to the person with sensitivity and respect. We can look them in the eye and ask for some time to talk. We can sit and enter a holy time of confronting conflict. We can name our concern, our criticism, with care. We can help the other see the nature of our complaint and we can listen to the response from that person. It’s very intimate, this sort of sharing, and perhaps that’s why we run from it. But when we take those risks, we and the other person are usually rewarded. A connection is made. The other person learns something. We learn something. And a bond is formed. People who are so sensitively direct are the people we know we can trust. They won’t blow us out of the water with their rampages and they won’t go around talking about us. They will come to us and we will know where we stand with them.
The Incarnation of our Lord and Savior, that great celebration we’re preparing for, reveals this direct and loving nature of God himself. God seeks to send his messages of encouragement and correction to us through each of our life events. Jesus himself honored all people, speaking to them very honestly but always with great respect. Jesus embodies the intimacy that is God’s. Intimacy is two persons being precisely who they are with each other at the same time. In human relationships it’s pretty rare. With God it is a constant.
Sometimes we shy away from that sort of bond even with God. We complain to others about how hard things are. We get discouraged and give up on a hopeful outcome. We become cynical, thinking that being in this moment honestly and directly with God won’t change anything. Just as we give up on others, thinking that telling them something won’t do any good, we give up on God, thinking telling him won’t do any good either.
The Incarnation is God’s extension of himself and an invitation to extend ourselves to God more directly. God invites us into that intimacy, actually demands that we become familiar with that intimacy. Open yourself to the Lord. Watch that relationship transform your human relationships. Love one another as I have loved you.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Christmas Eve – Monday, December 24
5:00 pm – Holy Eucharist with Children’s Sermon
Children bring an UNWRAPPED gift for a child at the Salvation Army
10:30 pm – The Music of Christmas
11:00 pm – Festal Holy Eucharist
Christmas Day – Tuesday, December 25
10:00 am – Holy Eucharist
First Sunday after Christmas Day – December 30
7:30 am – Holy Eucharist
10:30 am – Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols