Christmas! The very word can brings forth memories of joys and sadness as well as hope and dread. We think of the sound of bells the singing of choirs or the smells and sights of foods that only seem to arrive this time of year. We also remember those that have passed away and what they meant to our lives and the business of getting all the things ready for the great day itself. The shopping the wrapping the baking and cooking and decorating all have to be done in a timely and efficient but more often a chaotic manner.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year and it always has been. The colors the early darkness with the beauty of the lights, even street lights seem to give off a special glow they seem to somehow work harder and glow brighter this time of year. The people that go to the trouble of putting lights up on their homes turn the entire neighborhood into a place of safety and beauty. Even though the natural world has gone to sleep for the winter we human beings find a way of bringing beauty into the darkness. The ancient words that, “the light will overcome the darkness” has a moment of pure clarity every Christmas season.
For the last twenty years of my life, I have found it more difficult to find Christmas every year. The song “Where are You Christmas” and “If You Believe.” Can bring me to tears as I look for something I used to have but can’t quite seem to find anymore. I feel like Charlie Brown when he says. “I think there must be something wrong with me Linus. Christmas is coming but I’m not happy, I like getting cards and wrapping presents. I just don’t understand Christmas.” This is where I am right now.
For the next twenty five days we are going to take a Christmas Journey. We will look at its origins and traditions. We’ll take a look at Santa Claus and St Nickolas, and La Bafana and The Christ Child all of whom bring gifts on Christmas, depending on where you live. We will look at carols and cards and candies. Food and festivals we’ll look at ancient times and celebrations and we will take a good long look at the manger in Bethlehem. When we complete this journey I am hoping that we all find Christmas together. We’ll find it in our hearts and place it in our homes and with God’s grace be able to share it with others.
Today is the first day of advent. Advent is the 24 days prior to Christmas where we ready ourselves for the coming of the day itself. But this is just not an outward readiness, it is an inward readiness. It is a time when we should be looking at our lives and examining them to see where we are and where we should be and what our relationship with our Creator is. Sure it’s fun to decorate the outside of ourselves and our homes, but I think it is more important to God for us to clean up the inside of ourselves. Today let’s make this the point of the next twenty four days. It is said that, “An unexamined life is life not worth living.” We’ll examine our hearts and we’ll examine Christmas and it is my hope in the end we will understand the words, “Peace on Earth, good will toward men.