It’s an odd year for my family. My parents, 88 and 89, have lived rich and full lives, and my husband, children and I have shared holidays large and small with them. But this year they are confined to rooms in a nursing home.
Several years ago I received from a parishioner a "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season" cookie tin. Every time I reached for a piece of Doris's divinity, I had to read that cheery-angry motto of Christian moralism.
The colonial Puritans did a lot of good things, but banning Christmas was not one of their better ideas.
As the second Sunday in advent approaches, I find the prophets of the season compelling. To my ears, their message sounds pretty consistent: "Change the ways of this world."
I decided our family's Christmas would be simple and spirit-centered. Green to parenting, I defined spiritual as anything that allowed me a minute to reflect on what, beyond the laundry, mattered.
Bring it on, commerce.
The pressure to keep up a relentless facade of merriment is not a Christian pressure. We may not be able to completely escape this, but perhaps we can lessen it by not confusing it with discipleship.
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 (Psalm 148); Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52
Proper 1: Isaiah 9:2-7 (Psalm 96); Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14, (15-20). Proper 2: Isaiah 62:6-12 (Psalm 97); Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20. Proper 3: Isaiah 52:7-10 (Psalm 98); Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14
Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (Psalm 148); Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40
Isaiah 63:7-9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2:13-23
Jeremiah 31:7-14 or Sirach 24:1-12 (Psalm 147:12-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21); Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:(1-9), 10-18