Ah, it's almost here. Less than a week now until Christmas Day will be here. We have been waiting with anticipation since November 27 when we first began Advent. We had Sundays with big attendance, on the first Sunday of Advent and the Sunday when the children presented their play. That is always a big one---158 in attendance. Then, we had low attendance Sundays, both shaped by the weather. First there was the deluge one Sunday and then the freeze last week. Both dampened and froze spirits and kept many home.
Advent provides this progression through the season leading up to Christmas that helps us reflect upon what we think and believe about the coming of Christ into the world and what we should do in response to this cosmic event. We heard from Old Testament prophets and considered what they had to say about what it meant to go home at least when you have been far away from home and what the sign would be that would speak of hope for the future, a promise found in the birth of a child. We stopped to see a loud-mouthed badly dressed man on the banks of the Jordan River shouting to all who would hear that they should REPENT and wondered what he had to do with us. We considered the plight of a young peasant couple when both of them received news from an angel that they should consider a surprise birth to be a blessed hope, both for them and for the entire world.
Now, we are on the brink of celebrating another Christmas this next weekend, with Christmas Day coming on a Sunday, the day when Christians are supposed to go to church anyway. What do we do with a holy day/holiday that intrudes into your routine and forces you to break with your normal Christmas routine and substitute a regular Sunday routine in its place? Do we forget about going to Jesus' birthday celebration because it interrupts our regular routine that is reserved for Santa and his crew? Does wishing him another good birthday trump sitting around the house in our pj's and sipping hot cocoa or another beverage of your choice?
We need a little Christmas to interrupt our lives and make us think about why we go through the trouble of doing this every year. Are packages and presents and parties what make Christmas special to us? Is buying or receiving the best possible gift what really gives this special day meaning? OR is there a much larger, much more cosmic reason why we need Christmas to interrupt our routine and force us to think about something outside of our normal lives?
Perhaps the Christmas that we need to jar us loose from our normal lives is the one that is the most simple to consider. Maybe something tiny and innocent and helpless is what we need to make us take notice. Maybe seeing a peasant couple in the cold night air trying to shelter a newly born innocent one is a stark reminder to us that such ones as these are still with us, on a daily basis wherever we may be. There are ones among us whom we overlook often who need a little Christmas to be interjected into their lives, and we may be the ones to bring about the Christmas miracle they need.
Advent has come and almost gone. Maybe it has provided the time and space we need to really understand what it means to us, this year and always. We NEED a little Christmas in our lives to help us see what is really important in life and how that understanding shapes us into being who we are.