This only serves to confirm my suspicion.

(That I’m still a man in need of a savior.)

I happen to be a fairly capable person. I can do things and take care of things and figure things out. Sometimes I want to play the princess, to be rescued, but I am more likely to be in the midst of figuring out the solution. This means that it is hard sometimes for me to know exactly what it means to need Jesus to come and save me from my sin, to save me at all. I get it in an overarching sense, that I am a sinful person, but not always in an everyday life kind of sense. In my everyday life, I don’t often feel like I need to be saved.

Surely this is why we have big holiday gatherings at Christmas, to remind us exactly why we need to be saved. Such gatherings remind me that I do, in fact, desperately need Jesus to save me. In the midst of one such a gathering this year, I found that, despite my promises to be good, so good, unrecognizably good, that I could not, in fact, be good. I simply couldn’t do it. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I had to stand up for what was true, stand up for someone who was being berated. While I think that standing up in those ways, for those things, is important, I could possibly have done this in a slightly less angry/more tactful way. And whether what I did was ultimately right or wrong, the cost of my decision was that all the peacefulness went out of the gathering.

I have eaten myself up with guilt about this, about the fact that, still, after years of trying, I can’t just keep my mouth shut for a few hours. I can’t. I don’t know how. I see injustices happening, and whether it’s the right time or place to address them, I lose my head a little bit and must speak out, speak up. I spent the last few days before Christmas staring this reality in the face: I cannot be good enough, no matter how hard I try. I cannot do the right thing out of my own power. I did everything right to prepare for this event: lots of sleep, food, caffeine. But I can’t depend on myself to be able to have the right responses all the time.

And so, with reluctance and relief, I admit that I am very much in need of a savior, someone who does have the power that I lack. Someone whose birth and life and death gives me courage that I can try again next year, depending on him rather than myself. In recent years, I have spent Christmases knowing that I needed help to make it through, help to make good decisions, help to deal with life. But I spent this Christmas right in the middle of the knowledge that I cannot be good enough to earn any of the things I have been blessed with, not my friends, not my family, not any hope for salvation. During Advent, I was excited as we anticipated the birth of Christ, the mystery of God made flesh. I spent Christmas with a little more understanding of why I really needed him to come here, to set me free from sin and death.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

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