Most people that know anything about me know that I can be a bit of a Grinch when at Christmas. If you ask me, I would say it goes back to working a few years of retail at the mall during Christmas season.That will change a man I tell you.
Anyway, due to various reasons, even the last few Christmases have been different than expected. They weren’t bad and we’ve made memories that will last a lifetime, but major things have happened. Twice we were in the middle of moving houses which meant limited time to decorate as it just felt like extra work when packing up.
This year, things already feel different. It began on Thanksgiving. I know…I know…we are supposed to focus on Thanksgiving and THEN start Christmas. If anyone loves that rule, it’s this guy. In my experience though, one of the things you do on Thanksgiving is watch the Macy’s Parade and wait for the grand finale as Santa Claus himself comes down the street to welcome in the season of
commercialism….I mean Christmas!
Crosley will turn three in February, which means she is finally at an age where she really is starting to get a grasp on Christmas, Santa, Advent, and everything in between. In early November she declared that she finally was not scared of Santa and that he could bring her presents on Christmas.
As we had the parade playing, when the end was near I told her to stop and watch the screen. What happened next is a memory I will never forget.
“Crosley, who is that?”
“It’s Santa! Look! Hi, Santa! Daddy, take his picture!”
And she ran to the TV, jumping up and down, waving as if she was seeing a friend she had not seen in years. She beamed and what I saw was nothing but pure joy.
And yes, as it unfolded, my heart grew at least one size.
This Christmas is different because I get to experience it with someone who I love that is experiencing it all for the first time. Every Santa sighting, every reindeer, every gingerbread man, every baby Jesus in the manger is a reason for celebration.
I think churches can learn something from this.
For too long, too many of us have gathered with the same people doing the same things for so long that we have lost the passion that brought us together in the first place. We want to reach out, but we get bogged down by year after year of traditions that sometimes feel like an obligation rather than a privilege.
Perhaps this Christmas season, the best way to remember the joy in what we do is to try and experience it with someone who is doing it for the very first time. Who do we know that would benefit from hope, peace, joy, and love in the ways only found in the Good News?
This year when I see something Christmas-y, my thoughts are less “Bah humbug” and more “I bet Crosley would love this.”
Who are you inviting to worship with you? What relationships are we cultivating? I believe that the joy of Christmas will only come when experienced with others, especially those doing so for the first time.
Increasingly I am being convinced that the advent is a reminder not just that we get to to feel love, peace, joy, and hope but that we are called to be agents of those things to a world that is so desperate for them. Advent might best be experienced by helping share those things with others.
Make this Christmas one to remember, not for all that you had to do, but for what you got to see God do.