Still Christmas

......well pretend like it is. Mainly because I am posting this about 3 days too late. My blogging friend Margie wrote it and it is too perfect to wait until next year.

Definition of Advent:
Lights on the house
Stocking stuffers
Pictures with Santa
Rudolph and Frosty
Teachers’ gifts
Updated family picture mailed to friends and family by mid-December
Last-minute dashes to store
Gift-wrapping frenzy
Menu lists

We are immersed in a culture that starts “doing” Christmas months before the event itself. In September, bright banners waved along busy streets to announce this year’s holiday market opened October 2. The girls saw decorated trees when we passed them on our way to buy this year’s Halloween costumes, and the Jack-O-Lanterns sat one aisle away from holiday wrapping paper that was promoted by a display of gifts topped with large, oversized bows.

Our pastor suggested that the synonym for Christmas is distraction.

In Preparing for Jesus, Walter Wangerin, Jr. writes, “Mindlessly do the bells of secular celebrations jingle for Christmas. Meaninglessly do carols repeat their tinny joys in all the malls of America. No richer than soda pop is every sentimentalized Christmas special on TV. Fearless is the world at play with godly things, because Godless is its heart.” (emphasis mine)

I could almost see the author looking at me as he wrote those words.

While I don’t consider myself an overtly Christmas-y person – I don’t count down the days until it’s time to decorate, and I dread the rigorous task of hauling out dusty boxes of ornaments and setting up the tree – my mind has been far from the “reason for the season,” the celebration of God entering time itself for the purpose of redeeming our sinful, and Godless souls.

Distracted would best describe me, the answering of endless questions about presents and when? when? when? from the girls who, at ages 3 and 5, fully understand the gift part of the holiday. The poring over incomplete lists of family gifts, and wanting to get to cards, but never quite finding the time. Like Martha, I have failed to recognize Christ’s very presence – in my home, my prayers, my daily tasks.

In short, I’ve sent the Great Creator, the God of the Universe, and his redeeming lamb to the back of the line.

Wangerin says this: “A self-examination both humble and true must cause us to tremble before the living God…But even as we feared, so do we rejoice when we hear the light say, ‘Don’t be afraid. I have not come to punish but to give you life. I am no judge. I am the Savior born for you…’ The mercy of God? Is not this a dazzling wonder?” (emphasis mine)

Yes! Yes, I say. I need his mercy, want, and desire his mercy. I want to be transformed by His love, and by my own recognition that I desperately need Him. I want to sit at His feet, and find perfect rest.

Advent comes from Latin’s adventus, which means “the approach,” or “the arrival.” I will symbolically celebrate His coming in two days, and be reminded again Who He is, and who I am in relation to Him, that baby whose birth was heralded by angels of the Heavenly Host.

My merciful, gracious, lovely redeemer.

Name of wondrous love, name all other names above,
Unto which must every knee bow in deep humility.
Name decreed of old to the maiden mother told –
Kneeling in her lowly cell – by the angel Gabriel.
Name of priceless worth to the children of the earth
For the promise that it gave, “Jesus shall his people save.”
Name of wondrous love, human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we flee, helpless, O our God, to Thee.

(words by William W. How, 19th century)

And since I am posting this a little late, it begs the question. Did you miss it? Were you too distracted to focus on what yesterday was really about?
Don't wait until next year.
You can tremble today. And tomorrow and the day after that....even if it isn't the 25th.