Friday, December 19, 2014

Christians at Christmas: Prepared To Do It All Over Again

   It's the most wonderful stressful time of the year. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful time, but there is something about trying to get everything done before morning Christmas arrives that adds stress to this season. Television commercials, songs on the radio, classic movies, and our inaccurate memories of holidays gone by have us convinced that these days are to be exclusively filled with gathering with family, feasting on delicious meals, or singing the songs of the Season. However, those idyllic activities are often few and far between. Instead, many feel the hours pass with purchases, traffic, and deadlines.
   With all of this as the backdrop, imagine my reaction upon receiving word last week from the professor of my next course, that starts on January 5, that we were to have five different books read and four different projects completed before the start of our first class. I stared at the computer screen for a while trying to process what my eyes were telling me. In fairness to the professor, this class goes towards a graduate degree; I don't expect it to be easy. And, he did include a kind note apologizing for that this would be happening during the Christmas break. 
   Then, the faintest glimmer of hope shone upon the situation; I had already read one of the books before and it would be easy to pick it up and skim its pages to refresh my memory of its contents! As silly as it may seem, knowing that even one little part of my preparations for the class would be stuff that I already knew brought me great joy.
   It dawned on me. This mirrors the experience of the Church every year. As the four Sundays of Advent move us closer to the night that changed history, one of the last things to check off of our 'to-do' list is reading or listening to a familiar story. We remember the gist of it, but actually opening the Bible and turning to the accounts that Matthew and Luke offer takes us even deeper. We are all busy. We all have demands from outside or within that occupy our time. But, the church's annual return to these same passages is a beautiful reminder that some tasks need to be repeated. We need to read the story, again. We need to marvel at the faith of that young woman, again. We need to be inspired by the obedience of that young man, again. We need to get lost in the wonder of God's peculiar way of operating through the meek, the forgotten, and the tossed aside, again.
   My prayer for you and for me is that we would spend these last days of the Season of Advent preparing to do some things all over again. Grace and Peace, Scott

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