The final countdown has begun.
If you have children under the age of 7 you have known since Thanksgiving the number of days until Christmas Day.
So in the immortal words of “hide and seek,” ready or not here Christmas comes.
Gifts have been purchased, trees have been trimmed, lights have strung, travel plans have been made, and stockings have been hung with care. We have been bombarded with Christmas carols since October and the news has been reporting on the “holiday shopping season” since “Black Friday.”
During this time we can start to fall into the trap of “Christmas as usual.” Whether we know it or not we are creatures of habit and not just in our personal life liking having coffee in the morning or eating the same breakfast.
We can find these habits in our religious life as well.
Christmas for many people has become somewhat routine.
We know what to do, what to say, where to go, what to bring, what to cook and where to eat it. It’s all mapped out; just follow the same the routine. Christmas cannot just be something that is done in a secular fashion that is boiled down to shopping and pretty bows.
It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tradition but has Christmas become something that just happens instead of something we experience?
At my work I have been asked more than a dozen times this week if I am “ready for Christmas.” (what they are really asking is “are your children excited for Santa?”)
It’s a hard question to answer. Sure I am ready to be off for a few days and see my family but am I really ready for Christmas? Am I really ready for the coming of Christ into the world?
Can the in breaking of God into the world be celebrated simply singing carols and eating too much?
Has Christmas become just another day to, relax, eat good food and visit family or can it be something more? As Christians we believe we have good grasp on Christmas; we have seen it played out in church pageants, recited the story in worship, we set up our Nativity Scene and even make a point to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.
It’s a familiar story and one that brings back great memories of family, gatherings and friends.
What would Christmas look like or feel like we were truly prepared ourselves to encounter Christ? Forget about the gifts, the holiday ham and the miles to travel, but made the goal to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Would it mean more? Would we “get more out of it?”
Amid the sea of lights, packages, shopping carts and mad dashes to get everything done, have be lost sight of Christmas?
On December 26 will we be thankful that Christmas is over or thankful that we encountered Christ anew? The story of the birth of Jesus is not a small piece of trivial history rather it is a monumental, deeply profound and theological statement; the God of all of creation came in human form and dwelt among us. Because of this, the world, our lives will never be the same. This story is something that cannot be encapsulated in gift bag or even in a song.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that December 25 will be more than just another Thursday, but a time when the story of the incarnation of Christ is made more real and tangible for you and your loved ones.
I hope that there is a moment where the world full of darkness, greed, injustice and hate would be replaced with the stillness and serenity of the Christmas story. We need these moments; we need these moments where things are calm and bright.
Maybe it will be eating with distant relatives, hearing stories from parents/grandparent’s childhood, maybe it will be seen the excitement of children on Christmas morning, maybe it will be hearing the Christmas story with a new/renewed ears, maybe it will be visiting the cemetery of a loved one.
Whatever it is, may it be a moment that is undeniable that God is present and invading that time. Hold on it, do not let the world take it away from you.
We all need a touch of grace, a touch of love and touch of mercy every now and then, so why not during Christmas?
Let’s not miss Christmas this Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.