“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”―
I’m sure you’ve noticed….the fervor of the Christmas season often assaults us from September’s end all the way until December. The other day while shopping at Costco I felt just that–overwhelmed by an onslaught of Christmas music, faux decorations and mountain of toys two aisles wide. While I rounded the corner next to cases of hummus and casserole fixings, I sighed and pondered our desperate need for a slower walk into the coming season.
I wish more folks in the world ordered their lives around the church calendar and its feasts rather than the calendar of consumerism. Along with harvest decorations and the Halloween costumes there’s mechanical Santas and fake flocked Christmas wreaths at nearly every department store around.
I suppose Costco prescribes to Dickens’ philosophy above, that of keeping Christmas (almost) the entire year. While I support the spirit of this sentiment–being filled with peace and goodwill towards all men–the crush of gift-giving and pressures of picture-perfect holidays miss the point completely. We would do well–I would do well–to remember the need for a slow walk into the season; Advent is the perfect place to begin.
After All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) we observe All Saints Day on the church calendar, an occasion for remembering all the saints, known and unknown. After that is the last church feast day in Ordinary Time-the Story of the People of God, Christ the King Sunday on November 24th. We are then ushered into the season of Advent and the months that encompass the Story of Jesus from his birth until the celebration of Pentecost. This graphic below is helpful to me, a clueless Evangelical, when it comes to understanding the church year. Perhaps you’ll find it an aid to your understanding as well.
As with much of Christianity, the church year can be radically countercultural, a much-needed light showing a better way to live. In a culture that is often too hurried and distracted, the church year helps us pay attention because it draws our focus continually back to Christ. -K.C. Ireton, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year
A couple of years ago when I wrote my Christmas book, Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas, God gave me a simple idea for the little by little walk of waiting that Advent affords us. Enter the amaryllis bulb.
Amaryllis bulbs usually show up in the grocery stores by the end of the month of October, right along with the Disney princess costumes, next to Spiderman and the Jack-o-Lanterns.
Ignore those blatant garish reminders of a consumer holiday gone wrong and instead buy one or two amaryllis bulbs in various colors–red or peach or salmon. With a view to the Advent Season, think of them as a visual reminder to begin a slow(er)walk into the coming Season. Really.
A crinkly light-brown flower bulb half-buried in the dirt can become a silent message, counter cultural if you will, that says, “wait for the Real Thing. Wait for Jesus. Celebrate Him.” This is a great idea to do with kids, I might add.
When I buy my amaryllis (amaryllii???) I usually cut out the flower photo on the box and keep it as a way of reminding me of the beauty to come. Granted, watching the crinkly white globe while it sits in the dirt won’t make it bloom, but each little nudge of green shows me that something is happening down there in the dark.God is up to something….and (prayerfully) when the blooms arrive at Christmas I can rejoice in their remarkable surprise.When I sign my books either in person or via mail, I always include this Scripture from Micah 7:7, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” In Hebrew the word wait here is by implication to be patient, to hope, tarry, trust.
Perhaps our own lives can mirror this small slice of God’s creation and, like the amaryllis, take our time to reveal God’s remarkable surprises. Or tarry a bit in the days ahead before they all come careening towards in a pile up of presents and lost peace.
What we really need is the Presence of God. Let’s wait for that, shall we?
Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas is available via Books a Million, Barnes and Noble online or wherever books are sold. You can also purchase signed copies directly from me for $10 which includes postage. Click on the tab at the top for more info and a link to the book Website with free lists and downloads. You can also fill out the Contact form for a signed copy and we’ll connect there.
*header photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash