Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Presence: I don't get it yet

Another series of theme posts with a few different voices. At least that is the plan for now. These are a collection of stories about people understanding Christmas better. Learning that it isn't about the Christmas presents from man, but the presence of God that makes Christmas special.

Candles Photo Credit: ConstructionDealMkting

I remember singing "Silent Night" in a darkened church and lighting the candles of the people next to me. I remember playing with the previously melted wax on the little paper. I remember watching with fascination as  new wax dripped down the candle. All the while singing about that first Christmas night. Something seemed very special, very holy because of the presence of God with us here on earth.

Fast forward 20 years or so and those special holy services seem so far away. Christmas has long been about juggling schedules to make sure everyone sees us at the appropriate times, so they can give us presents and we can give them presents. It has become about learning the right songs and the right timing for this performance or that one. It has become about finding something, anything to check people off the gift buying list. It is about finding time for 6 Christmas parties.

I am exhausted and frustrated. I have lost Christ in this Christmas season. I don't know about peace on earth or joy to the world even though I sing those songs. I don't know about how love came down at Christmastime. I know that I feel like this is a quick sprint to the end of the year and somehow still a slow march of unending overcommitment and a hopelessness to change it. I know that I dread Christmas.

So this series came from a desire to understand Christmas better. Not the commercialized Christmas, but the real Christmas. Not the presents at Christmas, but Jesus at Christmas. As I have been searching my heart about Christmas, I find commercialism and vapid prettiness. I find that I like Christmas because it has pretty stuff and I get stuff. Of course I get to give stuff too, but that still making about the presents and not the presence. It's about more than stuff. It's about peace, joy, love, and Jesus. In my head I know that, but my heart doesn't know it yet.

And what's worse, I don't even know in my head that is about more than the birth of Christ. Yes the birth is important because without it we wouldn't have the death. However, shouldn't Christmas be about more? After all Advent is about waiting for Christ to return while remembering when he came the first time. Shouldn't Christmas be something like that? Maybe I'm just crazy here, but there is a small voice telling me it is more than stuff. I want to find that more than. So I'm trying to listen to that voice, but as I try to study and read I just end up with a vague childhood memory. The whole thing leaves me rather stumped.

How have you found the "more than stuff" in Christmas? How do you find the presence of love, joy, peace, and Jesus in the Christmas season?


  1. When we're decorating the tree, the first 'ornament' that goes on is always our Christmas nail. Jack found it first among all the many boxes I brought in from the garage and brought it straight to me saying we needed to put it on. I asked him if he remembered why we put that one on the tree not really expecting an answer since we hadn't talked about the nail since last Christmas, but he replied back immediately that it was for Jesus.

    I don't do it every day, but I like quiet time in the room with our Christmas tree. With all the lights off except the white lights on the tree, it seems like there are lots of little candles all aglow. Really slows me down and is so peaceful.

  2. You are the best! That is a great idea. Thank you so much.