Thrive: Love is Stronger – Amy Shorner-Johnson

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Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
— Matthew 26:51-52

Cyber Monday. Some of us have already spent some time trying to get the best deal online. Whether or not you participated in the last few days of shopping, it can be hard to avoid the hype that begins as we countdown toward what is supposed to be one of the most “wonderful times of the year.” Even though we often say the holiday season is about simplicity, family, or the baby born in a simple manger, the path to making this time meaningful can be burdensome.

Perhaps it is time to realize that parts of our fast-paced life have a cost and often do damage. Some of our busyness, which seems to heighten during this time, is destructive to not just our spirits, but can affect the spirit of our community as well. I don’t know the last time I heard someone claim their busyness with a sense of joy, but I do hear isolation, stress, anger, and sadness.

While it may not be a literal sword, the increasingly fast pace we practice, the stress, perhaps even the way we assign value to our time are increasingly harmful to our souls. If we attempt to create sacred time or space by preparing in ways that are not sacred, how can we truly embrace the experience? If getting the perfect gift, creating the right atmosphere or memory, or even protecting what Christmas is all about comes at the cost of destruction of relationships, compassion, and love, what have we really created?

What would it mean if we put our swords, or those things that create spiritual violence, away for a season and, in turn, intentionally worked to make sure that there was room for peace, joy, and ultimately love to come in? The way God came to us, after all, began with the defenselessness of a baby. God was willing to risk that love is stronger than the things that destroy.

Amy Shorner-Johnson_325Amy Shorner-Johnson is the assistant chaplain at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. She is a wife to Kevin, a mom to Leah and Joel, and a friend to a cherished many both near and far. She enjoys listening to students and continuing to learn in a college setting, as well as trying to bring a taste of the south into a northern state.

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