There is a story of identical twins who were identical in everything except attitude. In attitude, however, they were complete opposites. One was a hope-filled optimist, while the other a complete and hopeless pessimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local psychologist. He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins’ personalities. “On Christmas morning, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford and give the optimist a box of manure.”
The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results. When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him loudly complaining, “I asked for the iPhone XR not the iPhone 8! I wanted a Play Station Vita not a Play Station 4! I know someone who’s got a bigger remote-controlled drone than this one!”
Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling and saying, “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”
Advent is a good time for us to check our own attitudes. I don’t know if I’d describe us Christians as being complete optimists, but we’re certainly not pessimists. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote that the saint and the cynic have something in common: they see the world as it is. As Christians, we see the world as it is: we see the failure, the corruption, the stupidity and the violence. But unlike the cynic, we also see another power at work in the world. We see God at work in the universe, God’s loving intentions afoot in our history.
This Advent season let’s keep our eyes open for God’s presence among us. Let’s look for and be delighted by the love, joy, peace, and hope that are ours through Jesus Christ. That should make for an attitude adjustment for all of us.
Your friend and fellow minister, Rev. Steve Savides