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Our Saviour Lutheran 56 Cleveland Dr. Croton on Hudson, NY 10520 

Stillness Amongst Chaos

A few years ago, I wrote a small, self published book titled “Grace.” I did it as a fundraiser for the MS Society and all my proceeds went to help in a 50 mile walk I was getting ready to do for the MS Society. In it, I described one of my favorite grace filled moments during Christmas. This is a paraphrase of this portion of the book.

This will be the last devotional until January. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

When things get busy, I find myself wanting to take a time for stillness and quiet. I get this way especially during the Christmas season. The busyness of the season, the stress levels, and the nerves are all on high alert, so I take a moment in a particular way.

Each year, I go into the heart of the beast and head to the mall. I am not there to go shopping, but rather to seek stillness and joy. I know what you are thinking at this moment- the mall? Not a church or the woods? Yup, to the mall. I’ll explain why.

I will start with a hot chocolate or a coffee, something warm and cozy. I will find the busiest portion of the mall and find a seat in the midst of it all. I will then begin to slightly close my eyes and begin deep breathing. I say slightly because a guy with eyes closed in the mall is a bit strange to others.

As I begin to center myself there, I begin watching people. As an introvert, observing people is a favorite pastime of mine. I love people watching! 

I begin looking for smiles, happiness, and signs of joy. Yes, one of the biggest criticisms is that Christmas has become too commercialized and yes, I am in the heart of the place of commercialization, but that is why I am there. 

You see part of the Jesus birth narrative is that Jesus shows up at the most unexpected places. Jesus was expected to be born in a palace and instead he is born in a manger. Why not look for Jesus in the most unexpected places at Christmas- the mall?

While there is hurry and busy in the mall, there are also beautiful moments as a person selects a gift for a loved one. As the gift is selected, the loved one is thought about and the loved one opening the gift is imagined. You can tell this is happening because there is a moment of deep love and beauty across a person’s face as this is happening. This is what I look out for. Where love is, Jesus is present.

There are lots of angry people too as there are long lines and impatient people. While I am there, if I see anger, I begin to pray for that person. I ask for love and the presence of the Spirit for that person. I ask that whatever is bothering that person in this moment be relieved. I ask for Jesus’ presence, in other words, even for the angry person.

Then I begin to benefit. As I am breathing, praying, and seeking joy, I find myself becoming still and joy filled. I am living out my calling at that moment to seek Jesus and pray for the world. I find Jesus being born in the most unlikely of places- the mall during Christmas time. Th
Pastor Justin Johnson
Our Saviour Croton on Hudson

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Our Saviour Lutheran Church · 56 Cleveland Dr · Croton on Hudson, NY 10520-2751 · USA

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