It’s been an interesting week and a half. I’ve had many conversations with many different people on many different subjects. I’ve experienced a range of emotions during that time. I received pastoral care when I needed it. (Yes, pastors need pastoral care too).

And now, here we are – Christmas Eve. Things are (mostly) set. I still have several loose ends to tie up and finish. And in a few short hours, it will all be done. It will have either gone great, or terrible – or somewhere in the middle of that range. I have not idea.

But Christmas comes regardless. And surprisingly, I am at peace. In spite of a difficult week, I am at peace. Part of that I think comes from encountering Jesus several times in the midst of the difficulty. I got to experience grace. I got to hear words of encouragement. I got hear words of confirmation. I got to hear words of forgiveness. I got to hear words I needed to hear – and many not actually directed at me. But I got to hear them anyway.

Lots of things are going on. Part of the peace I have encountered is because of predictability. Many of the crappy things we experience are utterly predictable. Not shocking anymore. That doesn’t mean I have thrown my hands up in the air like I just don’t care. Rather, it means I know what to expect. And I can just move forward anyway.

Advent has been very good. I did an Advent daily prayer challenge that included reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke each day. This has been therapeutic for me. It set me in the right frame of mind. It forced me to pray for people I’d rather not pray for. And that changed me.

And isn’t that what Christmas is really about anyway. It’s not about the presents and family and church and consumerism and decoration and food, etc. Sure, those are all a part of Christmas as we experience them these days. But more importantly, Christmas is about Jesus taking on flesh and encountering us where we are and inviting us to respond to what he is up to in this screwed up world. Thanks for the invite Jesus. I accept. Let’s go forward, inviting others to join in. Sure, many will reject the invitation. So what, it’s not my problem. They will just miss out. But to those crazies who join in, hang on. It’s about to get real. Real peace, real truth, real love, real forgiveness, real grace, real mercy, real welcome, real Jesus.