Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

Merry Christmas! I pray that you and your family have been enjoying wonderful celebrations. We certainly have done our share of gifting and feasting and celebrating here. I hope to post some pictures soon.

I've been thinking a lot this week about the strange dynamic that it seems easier (for me personally as well as for our entire culture) to prepare and anticipate than to actually celebrate. As Catholics we are called to prepare for Christmas during Advent and then to celebrate and savor the great Mystery of the Incarnation throughout the Octave of Christmas and indeed all the way through the Epiphany. This is such a great and beautiful gift. Unfortunately "in the world" ALL of the celebrating is before Christmas Day. The preparation and celebration are tied up together in a frenzy of frantic activity that culminates on December 25th. After that, everybody drops into a collective heap of exhaustion. No more carols. The trees and lights come down. Life goes back to "normal" pretty quickly.

Yet the Church calls us to go about things differently. During Advent we are to prepare spiritually and enter into a time of prayerful waiting. Then, beginning on Christmas Day, we are to break into song and feasting and gift-giving and celebrating. Christmas, the celebration of the Word becoming Flesh and dwelling among us, is more than a day of over-indulgence after weeks of frenzied activity. It's a time to truly rejoice, savor, wonder, ponder, give thanks. We need a whole season to truly enter into that great Mystery that dramatically altered the course of human history. Contrary to how we may picture it in our heads and our Nativity scenes, the angels, shepherds, wisemen, drummer boy, etc. did not all show up immediately upon Christ's birth for one great "birthday party." The seeking and rejoicing and singing and celebrating were drawn out over a season of time. And we continue to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus today. He wants to be born anew in our hearts. He wants us to receive the gift of His peace and love in new ways each year.

It seems ridiculous, but it's actually easier (for me and so many others) to shop, wrap, bake, clean, decorate,..... than it is to truly enter into the joy of the celebration itself. When all of the "work" is done, what's left? What am I supposed to do now? Pondering, allowing my heart to be filled with joy and peace, relaxing, being present in the moment... why do these things feel uncomfortable? God entered into this world in the form of a tiny baby... without my help. He doesn't ask me to do anything but "come and adore." He doesn't ask me to clean the stable, buy clothes for the baby, find a place for the Holy Family to stay. He simply asks me to make room in my heart for the Baby Jesus to dwell.

And so I try. "O come let us adore Him." I sing it again and again. I quiet my heart and let Him in. And it's a beauty and a peace that surpasses all of the sparkly lights, fancy gifts, and festive parties. It's true joy.

It's joy that can get lost in the busy-ness where so many of us dwell nearly all the time. I pray that more people will learn to stop and savor. I wish I had my phone with me tonight when I ran into the grocery store for a few items. As I entered the store, the first two things I saw were a Valentine display and an arrangement of Spring flowers. On December 30th. Already, we're on to the next thing... anticipating to the point where we don't enter into the current precious moment.

Lord, please don't give up on my busy, distracted heart. I want to rush and plan and prepare... to control... to make things "perfect" in my own way. Yet I know you are always calling to me, asking me to make room in my heart for You. Your ways are perfect. Help me to accept your grace and enter into each moment and each season with a heart that is open and free and truly present. I love you and adore you. With the angels I rejoice and sing your praises. Amen.

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