Are you ready? No, I don’t mean are your packages wrapped and is your house lit up green and red. I mean for some truth-telling and heart-opening about the holidays. We are still on the road, somewhere between Oklahoma and Denver, where we'll meet up with all our kids (minus one) for Christmas. I am full of joy-----and also, this. (Maybe you too?)
Every Christmas, I fail. In all these ways:
** I reject the consumerism of our culture, wanting to replace super-materialism with super-spirituality, but
I am never spiritual enough.
I don’t pray enough.
I don’t wait on my knees and light an advent candle each week.
I only occasionally meditate through a holier-than-usual advent devotional each day.
I am not still, I am busier than any other time of year.
**I am busy worrying about the economics: am I buying enough or too much for my family? Am I giving enough away to those who don't have much? (No, it never feels like enough!)
** I want to be crafty and earthy and make at least a couple of homemade gifts, but I always run out of time and end up buying everything, which makes me feel materialistic.
** I feel guilty for what I have, so I give my time and energy to compensate and assign myself impossible tasks to serve as many as possible. And I am exhausted.
** I have created a host of family traditions to fill the vacuum of my joyless anti-Christmas childhood, but struggle to fulfill them all. And I’m not always happy when I do them.
**I am impatient. Do I really have to go to another Chinese Auctions (or the Yankee Swap, the White Elephant gift exchange, whatever it goes by in your neighborhood)? Could we all maybe just talk to one another, sing songs and tell stories?
**I hate all the Christmas waste and wrapping so I fanatically recycle everything I can, but I still see the mounds of holiday garbage stuffing our dumpsters and land fills. I feel wasteful.
** Sometimes I think I am going to scream if I hear “the Christmas story” read from Luke one more time, as if these are the only inspired words of God. If God wanted us to spend two months of our lives on this fragment of His story surely He would have given us more than 20 verses?
** I'm a party-pooper, because I wonder, Must we be so relentlessly happy these weeks? Maybe we could do with a little less cheer and a little more fear. Isn’t this baby the one who grew up saying things like, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”? Am I just be
**I’m frustrated by the ongoing “Merry Christmas” wars. If anyone wants to take Christ out of Christmas, they’re free to do so. And they likely already have. We’re not going to make America a Christian nation again by fighting over the meaning of the holidays. (In fact, we’re probably not going to make America a Christian nation again. Ever. We’ve been called to “make disciples” not convert nations.)
**I'm trapped. When New Years is over, I thank God, collapse and feel like a survivor of the season (which also includes 3 birthdays, an open house and an anniversary). But then, I feel so guilty that I feel so relieved.
And so the season ends.
There it is. My failures, complaints, and guilt hang from my Christmas tree like tacky tinsel and twine throughout the season like plastic garland. But finally I understand:
I try harder every year to be purer, better, less wasteful, less judgmental----
but I'm not.
I will never get it right.
We will never get it right.
Our bumbling fraught over-anxious celebrations
will continue year after year, if we don’t give up.
And it’s okay, because this season finally
is not about what I do or you do or about how any of us feel.
It’s not about what we get right and what we get wrong.
It’s about what God has done.
And what He's ready to do again this week, this very moment:
Are you ready? (O Lord, I am so ready!)
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
(For unto US is born this day our Savior, who is Christ the Lord!!”)----thank God.
Let THIS be the day!
(But I’m totally skipping the Chinese Auction.)
And one more thing: THANK YOU dearest friends and readers for hanging with me in this space all year. I treasure each one of you! So many of YOU have ministered to ME through your thoughtful comments. I hope these words bring hope, relief and maybe even a moment of worship and joy this week.
With much love,