He did not wait . . .
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
— from “First coming” by Madeleine L’Engle
Kids have been asking for weeks “When’s Christmas? How many days!?” And yesterday, when Jacob and I went to do a little last minute shopping he asked again. “What will we do tomorrow?” I told him the plan, including going to church. “Don’t we go to church on Sunday?” he asked me.
It is really difficult to help children understand what Christmas is really about, when the holiday seems to be about gifts, food and activity. We spend all our time baking and shopping but still, I hope at some point it will sink in that the reason we celebrate at all is that Christ was born!
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Gospel of Luke)
That is the message I tell my son, the word spoken to John the Baptist and this is our calling as well — don’t you agree?
“We are enslaved, by selfishness and addiction and all the wreckage that sin can wreak on the world, but are we willing to risk being freed? Do we dare enter that dangerous new country, leaving sure comforts behind? Perhaps it is time to surrender, open our hearts, and accept the wonder of Christmas by saying, with Karl Rahner, “We have no choice. God is with us.” (Kathleen Norris, God With Us.)
It took me a long time, years, to pull back enough from Christmas as a season so that I could truely understand and experience Advent. I pray for us all that this will be true as we experience Christmas Eve today.