“So take up what we’ve been given/ Welcome the edge of our days
Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset/ By our youth and by our age
Thank God for our dependence/ Here’s to our chasm of need
And how it binds us together/ In faith and vulnerability
This cup, this cup, I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here, This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy”
“This Cup”, Sara Groves
I wish you could have seen our children’s ‘not-Christmas’ performance at church the other morning. “Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart….” they sang (or not) and waved their arms about, flying imaginary flags.The castle backdrop in the sanctuary framing their movement and song, there were balloons and banners with “Joy” gracing the stage, getting the point across visually as well.
Christmas is a season of joy. But what if it’s just a word on a page, written in glitter and capital letters, but nowhere near our heart? What if you can’t get into the Christmas Spirit?
Don’t tell anyone, but I think the Christmas spirit is a mirage. A mirage in the sense that it’s based on something that’s actually not there. If we want to get INTO the Christmas spirit we’re going have to get OUT OF something else.
Maybe the something else is the constant electronic feed of Instagram posts and Facebook videos. Maybe we’re binging on inspiring tweets and blogposts or peoples’ random status updates that talk about their super interesting lives….and thereby rob us of the ordinary joys of our own. (or maybe that’s just me).
God can’t fill us with the Christmas spirit if we’re too full of things that were never meant to satisfy us. Perhaps it’s because we know in our Knower we were made for more.
Our satisfaction with the season of Christmas might just be when we do as close to nothing as possible, adjust our expectations and simply rest, if not physically, but mentally and visually from all the input and movement, the noise and the busy.
The Spirit of Christmas isn’t in anything we DO, it’s what’s already been done.
Maybe we add all the ‘shoulds’ of the season because we think perhaps our lives aren’t enough—they should be more glittery and joyful. But there’s a lot to be said for finding, as the song says, ‘splashes of joy’ right where we are.
Maybe our ‘meh’ feelings about the holidays are based on a lie—that we’re supposed to be doing X,Y & Z. “I should be _________(fill in the blank—decorating, baking cookies, going to see Santa, going to a Messiah performance, making handmade gifts for my children’s teachers….) this Christmas. Maybe if I do ___________ I will be satisfied. It will be enough. What is ‘enough’?
Perhaps we don’t really understand the filling is God’s job. The emptying is ours.
You can’t feel joyful if you’re feeling too ‘you-ful.’
Filling the well of our busy lives with more and more and more just leaves us tired and disillusioned. We were made to be filled with God—with His power, His presence, His joy. And the present reality we have might be just exactly where we need to find God’s presence. Not in the something else’s and the ‘shoulds’ but in the right-where-I-am-this-minute-s. Engaging in our own life, not someone else’s. Listening for God’s voice above all the noise.
Here’s the reality of the Christmas Spirit–It’s only God that can fill. Only God is enough, His “you-can’t-see-it-but-it-IS-real” Holy Spirit, nourishing us. Like the children’s song said, when the King is residence in the castle of our heart we have all we need. That’s a simple song from a long time ago, but it is so very true.
A Scripture came to mind as I sat to type these thoughts, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 ASV
When I make room, God comes to fill me with joy. And He throws in hope and peace as well. Maybe we don’t grasp what a powerful gift we’ve been given. As our Pastor said, “Be like the Shepherds. When you’ve heard the Good News, go and tell.”
That seems like the Spirit of Christmas to me.
Dear God, we thank you for our dependence. We thank you for our chasm of need and the way you continue to come into our reality, not only on Christmas Day but forever after. Nudge us in our knower with your Holy Spirit when we’re filling up on the nothing of this earth and give us a hunger for the Something that is you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.