Wednesday, December 17, 2014
If you are on facebook and follow my postings, you know that the season of Advent is important to me. I light one more candle every Sunday. I also pay attention to the Spiritual preparation that is part of this season. Worship, meditation, seasonal reading.
I learned about Advent many years ago as the Church of the Brethren moved toward finding meaning in some of the traditions outside of the Anabaptist faith. Two of those were Lent and Advent. I think Lent is a little easier to wrap my mind around as a faith practice than is Advent.
Advent gets all mixed up in buying, more buying and lack and plenty. Do we have all the gifts purchased and wrapped? Is the house decorated; are there enough lights on the tree? Will the neighbors appreciate my tastefully decorated house? Are meals planned and events scheduled? How much can I do and not become completely worn out?? These are issues for me this year. I no longer have the knee pain that slowed me almost to a full stop Lat year. I depended on Kay to help me work around my knee pain. This year, gifts are purchased, some even wrapped. The tree is up and fully decorated. Evergreens are scattered throughout the house. I have the Christmas Dinner Menu planned. My little family will be gathering Christmas Eve Day. And I am going to be ready.
I have heard much this year and years past, about putting Christ back into Christmas, and remembering the reason for the season. The latter is a little more honest the the former. As I think about it, putting Christ back into Christmas would take us back to a very simple and glitz-free celebration. All of our tinsel and glitter and over the top gift giving has been added in to what Christmas is....a Mass celebrated for the birth of the Christ Child. Gift giving began when a bishop in Turkey gave money so that a father did not have to sell his three daughters into slavery in order to survive. If he sold them, they would be slaves, but they would not starve. Legend has it that the bishop threw gold coins into the house and they landed in stockings that were drying by the fire. I've also read he put the gold coins in stockings drying on the bushes. Take your pick. It was a man of God, rescuing a very poor family from desperation. So putting Christ back into Christmas means I would have to really know the poorest of the poor in order to know what their needs would be so that I could help them live a better life.
I am not ready to dump the traditions that have grown up around this time of the year. I enjoy my live Christmas tree and the gifts I am able to give to my children. I enjoy dinners with friends and programs put on by my favorite little ones. I enjoy opening a gift chosen just for me and wrapped beautifully. There are more greens scattered about my house because I feel better and can do more.
But when I hear someone say "let's put Christ back in Christmas", I am pretty sure that putting Christ back in most of our holiday preparations would make him very uncomfortable. Putting Christ back in Christmas would mean we would not be shopping frantically and Black Friday would a thing of the past.
This year, remember the reason for this season, and take it more seriously. Here at Rachel's we have a stack of quilts for homeless children and abused children being removed from their homes. It is a beautiful stack. This morning our contact at the police department called. They need 3, one of those for an infant. We cry. I am glad to have them to give out. My heart breaks when we have to.
The call this morning was a reminder again that the Christ Child was born to poor parents and arrived in Bethlehem too late to find a comfortable place to stay. In his lifetime, Jesus' ministry focused on the poor and the sick and the mentally ill. Some how we have have moved pretty far away from the early Christmas traditions. So this year, I am paying more attention to simplicity and quiet and gentle celebrations. I will remind myself about the reason we celebrate in the first place. I am not sure where that will take me. But I will be open to the reason for this holy season.
I shared this hand made creche on my FaceBook page the second week of Advent. I bought this piece in a market in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007. I could not haggle over the price of a nativity. So I gave the young girl what she asked. She cried as she wrapped it for travel. I cried as she handed it to me, wiping her tears. For one instant I put did put Christ back in Christmas. One instant. I want to do more.
I wish for each of you a gentle Holy time of celebration this season. Friends and family close. Gifts we love. And remembering the reason..........