Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis the Season

A friend made a statement today that spoke to my heart for this time of year. I hope it will speak to you as well. My friend, Arlene, explained to our Sunday school class that the quip is incorrect—it is not the season to be jolly. It is the season to be holy.

I’ve mulled that thought over since we left church and the truth of Arlene’s wisdom shines over competing thoughts and feelings, putting things into perspective for me. This season is filled with anything but jolliness for so many. Suicide is at its peak near the holidays. Loneliness, depression, and helplessness all run rampant.

Our family has experienced three deaths in the last month and a half. Even before that it has been a bittersweet time for us for over seven years—this will be the eighth Christmas without our Ian.

Yet, you hear it on every radio station—‘tis the season to be jolly.

Ever want to fa-la-la the bejeebers out of someone?

I’ll admit I question why I can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit like I did when the kids were little. But I’ve seen a lot since then and have wondered about a lot more things—things like do the kids who receive the Angel Tree gifts really feel a familial connection to their incarcerated parent or maybe do a few just want to forget about the person who used to rage and terrorize and abuse them? Maybe they are feeling lucky the parent was arrested for something else just to get them out of the house? Nonetheless, that doesn't keep me from volunteering--just in case.

However,when one must spend an hour haunting the lanes in the parking lot for a spot so one can spend money one really can’t afford to spend on a gift that will be consumed, broken or unappreciated just so one doesn’t forget to give something to someone whose approval one seeks but will never receive, it tends to take the jolly out of things. (There are some who will be more concerned about the absurdity of that sentence than the truth of its message).

Then Arlene’s statement comes back to me. ‘Tis the season to be holy. What does that look like, sound like, taste like, smell like? What does that feel like?

To me, it’s the red pot outside the store that reminds me my little bit together with others’ little bits can make a big difference. It’s the sound of someone sharing my tears as I remember a missed loved one. It’s the sweetness of acceptance. It’s a newborn baby in a dark, dank cave of a barn, lying in a manger of straw who is beginning the arduous journey to the cross of our salvation—God putting on flesh to enter our world through a womb and exit through a tomb. He didn’t come to make us jolly. He came to make us holy, to bring us peace in the midst of all that confuses, to bring us hope to sustain us, to bring us love to share with the least of these.

He came. We must remember.

‘Tis the season.


Unknown said...

I think that's a very good reminder, Jenny. This is always such a season of mixed emotions. We don't have to go far to see the wide range. But keeping our eyes on Him certainly can give us the proper perspective.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I decided to check your blog today. Thank you!

Heather said...

Great post, Jenny. I've been thinking a lot lately about Christmas and do we really have to celebrate it since it's not really biblical (not that it's anti-biblical, although most of the traditions celebrate anything but Christ, but it's not something seen in the Bible - none of the disciples or the early church practiced this holiday). Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love the family traditions and an excuse to be around all the family. But I like your perspective (Arlene's perspective) about a reminder to be holy.

Paula said...

Important thoughts. Thanks for giving me a pause as I pondered them tonight.

I didn't realized you'd experienced such loss lately. I'm sorry. I know how grief reaches inside and pulls out the life sometimes. May God fill you with Himself and carry you and speak His grace into every nook and cranny of your soul.

Thanks so much for the encouragement you've given me. I'm amazed at how our blogs can bring us together and minister to our hearts.

Wishing you a beautiful Christmas even in the pain. May you feel the sweetness of His presence as you worship Him.

Anonymous said...

What a great thought. For some reason this year the whole commercialization of Christmas and the emphasis on gifts really, really got to me. I think it was after I went to Target thinking, "I need to get more stocking stuffers." Not, "I need to get that specific thing he asked for." No, I just needed something to take up space and make the stocking look nice and full. What a waste of money and a shameful way to approach the season.

What does holiness look like? What does it feel like? A wonderful, poignant question--thanks for asking it.


C. H. Green said...

Great reminder.