The carols and holiday songs came on the radio well before Advent was upon us, and car advertisers used nostalgia and holiday movies to entice us into buying a car for ourselves. Sigh. Among all the pressures to buy, buy, BUY!!! I almost annually want to dig in my heels and refuse to celebrate Christmas at all. At least not that way.
I struggle to cope with the two worlds of Christmas: the commercialized version and the faith story I claim and proclaim from the pulpit of two small rural congregations. Is it possible to deeply feel the wonder and gravity of Jesus’ birth, while also not being a total Scrooge with the secular celebrations in every workplace, store, and group of friends?
I can step back and laugh at myself when with each week of Advent I seem to be lacking the theme we are contemplating in the worship service (hope, peace, love, and joy).
I think about that little family-to-be, Bethlehem bound. It wasn’t easy for them either. Mary’s head must have been filled with, “Why me?” as I’m sure rumours and judgments were flying about her being unwed and pregnant. Joseph was caught between the societal expectation to dismiss Mary, and the angel’s advice to embrace her. The journey to complete the census requirements…what a long, uncomfortable trip that must have been for everyone!
Perhaps it has always been a struggle to birth Jesus into this world, a tension between the pressures of life and the room we must make for the Holy. Making room for Christ to be born in our own hearts and lives…sometimes, that takes effort.
How do you make room for Christ to be born within your heart and life? Do you have any special traditions that help to “prepare him room”? Do you exclude the secular celebrations to get into the deep meaning of Christmas, or can the secular and holy comfortably share some middle ground?
Peace to you, this holy time of year. May the warmth and joy Jesus brought into the world be yours.
Rev. Brooke Phillips serves Greenwood and Mount Zion United Churches, a two point charge near Pickering, ON.
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