“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live; the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~Galatians 2:20
Remember the good old days when the Christmas season began after Halloween? How long until “the most wonderful time of the year” simply becomes “the most time of the year?” Now, I’m no Scrooge about the Holidays. Not much can hold a candle to Christmas joy, at its best. But, sometimes Christmas Day rather arrives to find our heart resembling the last inch of a melted advent candle. Some of you will find yourself there this year unlike any other. Moreover, for many of us, most of us, (all of us?) – the fullness of Christmas spirit depends upon an imaginative mixture of remembrance of innocent Christmases long past, willful forgetfulness of sins long present, and a soulful struggle over whether the season’s anticipation will be consummated by what is wrapped in bright paper under a tree or by what was wrapped in swaddling clothes under a star.
Let’s be real. Whether we toil under the Law of Hallmark Christmas or the Law of Advent/Christmas Observance – or both – we will inevitably fall short of the glory of the gods and God of the season. But thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit is a Master at waylaying wayward hearts long enough to pour out God’s mercy and love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
‘Lord, in this season of more and more, grant us faith in your child, Jesus Christ, Who is All in All. In this season of going and going, we pray, ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel.’ Amen.
Peace on Earth,
P.S. – From my favorite preacher’s new collection of Advent sermons, which inspired the above:
“It is not easy to grow up. Maturing as a Christian means making sacrifices, delaying gratification, setting the needs of others ahead of one’s own, pursuing distant goals instead of temptations ready at hand. In these stress-filled times, virtually all of us, as we get older, will seek relief by visiting, in our imaginations, a childhood Christmas of impossible perfection. These longings are powerful and can easily deceive us into grasping for a new toy, new car, new house, new spouse to fill up the empty spaces where unconditional love belongs. Our longings are powerful, our needs bottomless, our cravings insatiable, our follies numberless. For those who cannot or will not look deeply into the human condition, sentiment and nostalgia can masquerade as strategies for coping quite successfully for awhile – but because it is all based on illusion and unreality, it cannot be a lasting foundation for generations to come. Christmas, someone said, is the ‘feast of Nicene* dogma.’ That concept is not easy to teach or warm one’s hands over without considerable effort, but it is not impossible to convey even to young children the sense that the real meaning of Christmas lies precisely in the combination of magical ceremonies and the grown-up message that in the very midst of human selfishness, the waylaying love of God has broken through to us unconditionally.”
~Fleming Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, page 49.
*The Nicene Creed is an expansion of the Apostle’s Creed, particularly upon the nature of Christ as fully God and Human.