Friday, November 19, 2010

Simply Christmas…

Ever feel like Christmas is a heavy holiday? That the day doesn’t so much arrive as it falls on you like a stack of firewood? I do. Every year, I want to celebrate Christmas with abandon and joy and a deep sense of spiritual renewal. But when I think about it, the anxiety machine in my heart ramps up for heavy production. I worry about worship planning, shopping lists for meals and gifts, the budget, charitable giving, etc. And yet, a sneaking suspicion always lurks in my mind that the point of Christmas is getting drowned out. Retailers call the day after Thanksgiving (i.e. the Holiday Shopping Season’s ‘official’ start) “Black Friday,” a reference to their hope that high sales on that day will turn their ledgers from red to black. But for many, I feel that day marks a transition of their mood from joyful to dark and gloomy, because the Holiday Season is more complicated than it should be.

We talked about that at a recent Worship Team meeting, and decided to fight back! Rather than resign ourselves to another Christmas overly complicated by too much unneeded stuff, we Plymouth Creekers will refocus on the simple stories and meanings of this wonderful season. So the theme for this year’s Advent is “Simply Christmas,” and we’ll explore that theme in multiple ways. Our sanctuary will have fewer decorations than normal. Every week, we’ll sing simple Christmas and Holiday songs, and retell just the basic stories of Christmas through our scriptures and sermons. And to cut through the over-commercialization of Christmas (ponder- How did we let Jesus’ birth become The occasion for stores to pressure folk into irresponsible spending?!?), we’re asking that you plan to give more needed gifts with us every week.

#1- Chana W challenged us recently to bring simple toiletries for families in need, believing that a simple tube of toothpaste can be a great Christmas gift. And beyond that, every week of Advent we’ll have a new opportunity to give a simple needed gift, reflecting that day’s theme. You know how each candle on the Advent Wreath has a unique meaning? Advent 1 is Hope, 2 is Love, 3 Joy, 4 Peace... Well, every Sunday, as we light a new candle and tell another part of the story of Jesus’ birth, we’ll put a simple item in front of the Sanctuary. That item will symbolize the simple theme and story of the week, and will also serve as a chance for you to give to people in need.

Of course, I won’t ruin the surprise, and tell you now what those items will be! But I will tell you what the schedule will be for our various gifts, so you can bring those to church on the corresponding Sunday. Just imagine- as Christmas gets closer and closer, the front of our Sanctuary will fill with the generous gifts of our church for those who need these gifts this season more than we. Pretty cool idea, I think, so we’re trying it out to see how it works. Here’s the schedule:

On November 28, the first Sunday in Advent, please bring a foodshelf donation. Click here for a list of items that are especially helpful.

On December 5, the second Sunday in Advent, please bring a children’s book (or a couple!) that’s new or gently used, and especially, if you can, toddler board books.

On December 12, the third Sunday in Advent, please bring a baby blanket (or a couple!), that’s new or gently used, and/or any other cold weather clothing like hats, jackets, mittens.

On December 19, the fourth Sunday in Advent, please bring money for a special peace offering, which will be explained on that Sunday.

At its most basic, the simple point of Jesus’ birth- and life, death and resurrection- was to transport us beyond ourselves into God’s very presence, and so give us deeper compassion and love for all God’s Creation. Living for something beyond yourself; a simple idea, sure. But it’s a Christmas gift we all need again and again, and a better one than even my deeply coveted Amazon Kindle… 

Grace and Peace,

No comments:

Post a Comment