Dolive: Waiting for Christmas
Dec. 15, 2017 at 11:23 p.m.
Every year the routine is the same. After the celebration of Thanksgiving, the mad rush to Christmas begins. Amid the lights, parties, gifts and presents, it is hard to remember the "reason for the season."
In the Christian liturgical calendar, the time leading up to Christmas is known as Advent. Advent comes from a Latin word that means "coming." It is a special and holy time marked not by the yearning to rush out and buy more things but an inward reflection of the coming of Jesus the Christ.
During this time, we are called not to run to the manger but to wait … that's right, wait … for Christmas. Sure, some people have decorated their entire house on Nov. 1, but Advent calls us to slow down, be more reflective and wait. It is through this intentionality that we begin to see and experience the message of hope, peace, love and joy in our own lives and the world around us.
There is something freeing in slowing down. We are able to take in all that is around us and see how God is moving in our lives.
This notion is not something that is propagated in our modern American society. Our calendars fill up months in advance with appointments, parties and school functions. The thought of slowing down, especially during December, seems foreign.
Slowing down means being intentional about our time and about our spirituality. Getting to the end of Christmas and missing the coming of Christ in our life would be a tragic thing. How many of us are not in the "Christmas spirit?" We are just going through the usual December motions: cookies, presents, songs and trees. Advent's goal is to guide us to a deeper and more personal connection with God so that when God appears we do not miss it.
Every year there seems to be a news story that surfaces regarding Christmas and society. There seems to be a tension that some Christians find each December. Last year an internet evangelist thought that Starbucks was trying to "erase Christmas" by having a solid red holiday cup. This year, the President has declared that is it now "safe" to say Merry Christmas again. Merry Christmas has never been "illegal," it has never been "off limits." Schools and other public institutions have made decisions to be more inclusive during the month of December recognizing that there are more than just Christians in our schools and communities. This is not an attack on Christianity; this does not mean that we are being "persecuted" for our faith. This does mean that we are aware that Christians are not the only gig in town. Does this diminish our faith? No. Just because not everyone in our town celebrates the same way we do, does not invalidate our religious expression.
Why then is there a push for everyone to wish Christians a "Merry Christmas," even if they do not celebrate the holiday? I believe that people's desire for the over saturation of Christmas in their lives is because they have not found anything fulfilling in their spiritual lives during this season. We search high and low trying to find a connection with the divine; we look everywhere, hoping to experience God in a new and tangible way. If we say it enough or if we are told it by everyone we come in contact with, then maybe it will mean something more.
Too many people get to the end of Christmas and wonder where did all the time go? Yes, the parties were fun, and the kids had a great time, but did we make room for the coming of Christ in our lives anew?
If Christmas is to mean anything it has to begin with looking into ourselves and reflecting on how the story of the coming of Christ has changed our lives.
Let us all wait together for the coming of Christ again in our own hearts and minds. When Dec. 25 comes and goes, will we be able to look back and say that we saw God moving in a way we never thought possible? This is the miracle of the Christmas story.
— The Rev. Evan M. Dolive is the associate minister for family life at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Longview. He is an author and blogger. More information can be found online at evandolive.com or on social media. On Twitter, he's @RevEvanDolive and on Facebook, fb.com/evandoliveauthor.