Tag Archives: externals

The Externals of Christmas

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jesus and children drawing

The Externals of Christmas

Somehow, the externals of Christmas get in the way. You know. Last-minute presents, decorations, short visits, running errands, waiting in line. The externals take away from important things like praying. Worshipping. Making time for God. Loving my neighbor.

As Henri Nouwen mentions in today’s Advent reading: “How hard it is to remember…the difference between the urgent and the important.” [1]

I am afraid I am unfamiliar with Pѐre Thomas. (Nouwen mentions him in today’s reading.) Pѐre Thomas wants his readers to spend the days before Christmas in prayer. Such a difficult task!

I strive to pray more, and I fall down on the job. I try, and try, and try again. Alas, I cannot keep this discipline of prayer. Forgive me, Lord.

“Christ wants to be born in us, but we must be open, willing, receptive, and truly welcoming.” [2]

Isn’t that the key, Lord? The key to so much of living? The way of following Jesus?

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to follow You. Lead me in Your way. Give me patience and understanding with those who have different views, and who come from different cultures. Thank You for many myriads of people—all made by You—individuals with differences. Lead us out of darkness and blindness. Lead us into Your Light. Amen.


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[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 38.

[2] Ibid.