It is confession time. I don’t feel particularly festive at the moment. No tidings of comfort and joy seem to be flowing over me at this time. What I feel is overwhelmed by the tasks to be done. I find tidings of disorganization and impossibility greeting me as I enter my office this morning. And Christmas is the reason for my season.
As a pastor working full-time in the church, Christmas often feels like the time of “more.” It is the season when the usual daily agenda remains in place, but now there is “more” added to it. Special services to plan. Parties to attend. Church decor to work on. Honestly, the day-to-day normal stuff is plenty. I wasn’t really looking for more.
And I know it’s not just me. Many people feel the crush of the holiday and joy is not always the word of the day. We go to the store and see people fighting to make their way down the aisle. Baskets are loaded with goodies that most of these customers will be paying off for many months to come. We see the movement of “more” (buy more, spend more, give more, do more, eat more) all around stores where we shop, and we wonder if we should just do away with the season all together.”
And yet, what would the year be without this time?
I think back to yesterday morning. It was a good day yesterday. The morning was filled with worship in a sanctuary adorned with a Chrismon tree and beautiful poinsettias. Young families came and lit 2 purple candles on our Advent wreath. In the later service our praise band took us through the story of Jesus’ birth. They reminded us of how Jesus’ birth is a sign that God loves us. They helped us recall that God is not satisfied to leave us living this broken life we choose for ourselves, but instead chooses to send His Son to give us new life – to give us “more.”
I think back to last night when I joined the youth at the end of their progressive dinner – an annual Christmas season event. I was reminded that these festive gatherings, that can feel overwhelming as just another item on a crowded calendar, are rarely enjoyed at other times of the year. Sure, the days get full with numerous events, but when else do we dress up in the fancy clothes or Santa hats or Elf ears and just enjoy one another? How often do we fill our homes with songs that sing of tidings of comfort and joy? For me, once I get over my angst of having to go to yet another gathering, I find that the parties and the dinners and time spent with friends adds something to my life – I get “more” than I expected to get.
And now, as I sit here and write this blog post in my office I think about the table in the Main Hall. On that table there are simple mesh Christmas stockings filled with toys. These stockings did not start out full; they were taken by people and filled with toys and goodies. These stockings will be delivered to the Salvation Army for distribution to local children – so that in this Christmas season they might experience “more.”
It is the season of “more.” More work in the local church. More events on a crowded calendar. More shopping in madhouse malls. More worship services where we are reminded of God’s great love for us. More opportunities to share a meal. More times to sing songs and exchange gifts with people we love. More chances to bring joy and hope into the lives of others.
I am not sure how much more of this season I can take, but I do know how much more of this season I need.
Holy high-five to you,