Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If Christmas is a Mess..

Weeks ago, my daughter and I were singing along to the Christmas music that was playing outside a shopping area. She enjoys all those overplayed classics, like Frosty the Snowman or Santa Claus is Coming to Town.. because for her they are fresh and new. As we both sang along, I heard her continue “He’s making a mess, he’s checking it twice!” We both looked at each other. And she said, “Mommy, Why is Santa making a mess?”
If Santa is the one to blame for initiating the tradition of gift-giving which has grown into today’s frenzied shopping, then my daughter is right – Santa has made a mess of Christmas.*

Christmas, however, has always been messy. We may like to remember it as the Silent, Holy Night.. but Jesus was born in a noisy, preoccupied, and crowded town of Bethlehem. If, today, we become discouraged by the competing factors of commercialization at the holidays, it is important we remember that the first Christmas had it’s own set of challenges. Royal decrees, traffic jams as people traveled for the census, and stressed-out innkeepers all made for a less than holy first Christmas. This is the good news of Christmas; that God could appear despite all complications – that God is be born into “the mess”.

In my family growing up, it was a logistical nightmare to get all five of us to church (on time!) for the Candlelight Christmas Eve service. By the time we settled into the pew, we were worn out by the frenzy of Christmas preparations. As the lights dim, and the story was retold in music and scripture – it was as if journeyed back to Bethlehem.. but this time, we get a chance to truly receive Him. Stressed out at the start of the worship service, I always left with a new sense of God’s peace and love.
I hope that this Christmas, your heart was also humbled by God’s love for you. We had an incredible offering of music by the Olivet Choir, vocalist Janna Bruno, and guitar/singer Kyle Samilton and his friend from Frostburg State . So many kids and adults participated in the reading of scripture and the retelling of the story. It was a time once more for the Holy Spirit to draw near to us.. and to draws us closer to one another.

May Christ continue to born in us – deepening our love for each other and for God – not just on Christmas but throughout the year ahead.

* Do you find it challenging to fit Santa’s large, jolly persona into humble manger where Christ was born? Invite you to check out the book A Special Place for Santa. It was given to me by Kit and Dave Jones and I really love it! This is an excellent book for any who want to reclaim the sacred meaning of Christmas while at the same time celebrating with a cultural icon. It teaches the lessons of kindness and generosity by retelling the legend of Saint Nicholas who gave to the poor on Christmas day.

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