Please enjoy this Christmas Musing rerun from a collection of Pastor Krogh’s essays first posted in 2010,
Dear Advent Audience:
Through Facebook and other forms of social media, we’re connected almost immediately with all the accumulated wisdom of the moment. (We're also connected to a bunch of meaningless drivel, but I’m not going to dwell on that right now.) A while back, one of my Facebook friends posted “21 mistakes I made as a Senior Pastor”; they were pretty good and include things like, “Putting numbers over faces," "Putting church over community," "Putting accountability over acceptance” and “Putting holiness over humanity.”
It got me thinking about the Christmas season and this little formula of “Putting X over Y.” I came up with a few of my own for Advent. I’ll call it “Mistakes with the Mistletoe.”
Putting tradition over need
Putting style over substance
Putting Santa over children
Putting slaving over serving
Putting shopping over spirituality
Putting church attendance over faith
Putting obligation over opportunity
Putting “togetherness” over intimacy
Putting gifting over listening
Putting “ours” over “theirs”
Putting childish over childlike
Putting cost over value
Putting “should” over joyful
Putting migraine over manger
You get the idea.
My thoughts are not to take yet another cheap shot at the commercialization of Christmas; most of you are already fed up and don’t need that reminder. My hope is to pause even longer, not to condemn the bad aspects of how we celebrate, but to draw forward the deeper wonders we do celebrate. It’s not that I’m worried that you’re getting it “wrong”; it’s that I worry that you may not know how in so many ways, you’re getting it RIGHT!
I don’t want to condemn the “X”. I just want to celebrate the “Y”.
As we head into Christmas, there are so many opportunities to become distracted from the simple miracle. In Jesus we proclaim God’s love for us was so great that He became us, born in human flesh, in conditions of poverty, to an oppressed people and humble family. God did not come because we made the world beautiful enough for Him to arrive; Jesus came to tell us the world was already loved, and that’s beautiful. I know you get that, because I see all the beautiful ways you express that love throughout the year--your encouragement of children and visitors, your generosity to the community, your honest concern for the least among us.
That’s why the church takes a little longer than the rest of the world to get to the Christmas story. We wander down these halls of Advent, recalling the story leading up to Christ’s birth. Remembering how Jesus was born into a world of pain, anxiety, fear and hope helps us recognize how that birth comes to us as well. Over 2,000 years ago people needed to know they mattered, just like today; and over 2,000 years ago a Savior was born who redeemed the world, our world, today.
In Jesus’ world, so many missed His coming because they were expecting something else. They looked for a Messiah that would solve their problems and make their lives easy. What they got instead was a Christ who gave their lives purpose and meaning and turned what they thought were problems into merely circumstances.
Wishing you a merry Christmas, I remain,
Jonathan B Krogh