I’ve been champing at the bit to turn on Christmas music, though so far I have resisted in part because of guilt. Since materialism and consumerism have come to be associated with the Christmas season, I feel guilty for even liking Christmas.
But ... now that we have cleared Thanksgiving Day, I have a confession to make: I love Christmas and I don’t think I should have to feel guilty about it anymore!
I love the decorations and the music. I love the opportunity to seek out personalized and meaningful gifts for those I care about. I love Christmas and it saddens me that this season has come to symbolize materialism.
Yet it seems that in our struggle to protect Christmas we sometimes make things worse. Remembering “the reason for the season” becomes just another way of throwing our religion at others as if it were a weapon and in the process, we neglect the deeper meanings of Christmas.
This time of year we all need a little celebration. I will not deny that to my atheist friends or those of different faith traditions. This holiday need not be about us against them — yet again.
None of this clamor and fighting speaks to those for whom Christmas is a difficult time due to grief, financial hardships, loneliness, and so on. But there is a message in Christmas that does. It is this message that calls to my soul not just with anticipation but with impatient anticipation.
Thus, my prayer for this holiday season:
I have heard it said that people of Christian faith should be more about Easter and less about Christmas. Easter is a powerful hope but it deals with things beyond this life. It is a sure and certain hope but one that eludes my imagination, confounds my concrete mind.
The crucifixion is something I can wrap my mind around. We have only to open our eyes and our hearts to the realities of the world and we recognize the darkness of Good Friday. When the season is upon us I will dwell with great gratitude at the foot of the cross.
But, Lord God, I want to stay for a while in Christmas where hope is something I can cradle to my chest. I want to dwell here where music sings the promise of love, reminding me of those Mary moments in my life when it seems truth and love are about to burst forth from within and change the world.
Let me hearken to Mary’s song and hear it as a radical claim awakening me for the sake of revolution, to grab hold of the Kingdom of God already present amongst us.
Let me look into the face of the clearest revelation of your love and let him transform me so that when the “Slaughter of the Innocents” comes again upon this world I will stand up and say, “NO MORE.”
Let me dwell here in the incarnation of your love and let it change me so that materialism and consumerism are a distant clamor that has no claim on me.
Lord God, let me dwell here in Christmas for a while. I know I am impatient but you understand how this holiday touches us. Some call it sentimentality but you cradled each of us as you breathed forth the breath of life. You know the power of that tender love. It is life changing, not mere sentiment.
So, let me draw out this Christmas season for a time and savor the message of love herein. Then let me live that love with generosity and courage.
This I ask in the name of your son who is your love in human flesh, Jesus the Christ.
Sheri Ellwood is a mom, wife, farmer/rancher, and former Lutheran pastor. She lives in Kansas and blogs at www.faithfromthefield.