I have been starting as many days as I can with extra quiet and contemplation during Advent, in an intentional effort to slow down, fix my eyes on Jesus, and meditate on the reason for this season……
I have been posting as little of my self on Facebook as possible. I have not been commenting on increasingly scary world events, as much as I have wanted to. I have not been posting funny observations about what the children are doing in my classroom. I have refrained from posting about my continued weight loss success and my move toward greater health and wholeness……
Posting only about Advent has become a spiritual discipline for me. I actually have to stop numerous times throughout the day, and remind myself that I am not going to post about my world until after Christmas. It has been a great way to help me focus on Jesus. I normally love posting about my passions, those things in life that make me cry or laugh. I enjoy engaging in intelligent on-line discussions about world events. I love that Facebook keeps me connected with many people that I care about in different parts of the world. All of that is good, but I wanted to focus on only ONE thing this Advent. I wanted to think about the coming of Jesus, as much as I possibly could……
I have avoided malls and shopping like the plague. I have whittled my gift list down to the bare minimum. I always sponsor some disadvantaged children at this time of year, and have truly enjoyed my time shopping for them. There is a vastly different mindset when you are shopping for people who actually do not have anything. I find great joy in that kind of shopping. Shopping for people who already have more than enough stuff, however, is depressing to me. I feel like I am just throwing my money away. They don’t need any more stuff. I don’t need any more stuff. The last few years, my husband and I have not exchanged gifts at Christmas, and I have not minded it at all. Every year, I would aimlessly wander around in the stores, trying to find him a sweater, or a CD that he didn’t already have, or fishing stuff that he already had in his tackle box, or a pair of boat shoes that he might have liked, but didn’t really need…..All the while, spending money that I didn’t really have, watching everyone around me frantically rushing around doing the same, and thinking- in the words of Charlie Brown, “This isn’t what Christmas is about…..doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is really about??!!!”
The fact that I spend all day with a group of children who are so hyped up waiting for Santa, does not help my “secular holiday depression”. Sure, some of them will say that they love decorating the tree, or baking cookies with Mommy, or visiting with Grandma and Grandpa and all of their Aunties and cousins. Some of them talk about enjoying those aspects of Christmas, but most of them just talk incessantly for weeks about what they WANT. About PRESENTS. How did this happen? How did a festival, that was adopted to help the early Christians celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, morph into this gross and overwhelming display of consumerism??
I don’t know…..But as each year goes by, I become more upset and sickened by it. So, I am trying to be as countercultural as I possibly can, but frankly, most people around me do not want to hear my opinion. I feel like a voice crying out in the wilderness. I HAVE found a few kindred spirits, who are writing and blogging about trying to create a new type of Christmas celebration-that is really an old type of Christmas celebration. About observing a spiritual time of preparation. About trying to find spaces for quiet contemplation amidst the busyness. About less buying and more spending time with loved ones. About helping the poor and the orphaned and the widows. About rituals like caroling, and praying, and sitting by the fire telling stories. About just being together. About simplifying. About Jesus.
What a radical thought……that Christmas is about Jesus.
“And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.