Christmas; simple, still and strange.December 25, 2012
For twenty-five years I have spent Christmas dominated by the demands of the extrovert-oriented family of my partner. It is one of the ways he knows I really really really love him, that I have risen to these challenges year after year. The magnitude and complexity of the obligations are beyond description.
Last christmas took me over the edge and I pledged that I would not front up for it all this year, but escape to find a simple, introverted Christmas.
In order to escape the intensities of these events, I have also had to relinquish the part of Christmas that I love: The story of God in music and words and images and textures and gestures.
Before we left, a week out from Christmas day I had done only 7 Christmas services, and 3 family events. Only a tiny slither of our normal quota. As limited as my capacity for large social gatherings of conspicuous consumption are, my energy for the stories of God in creative arts and words is yet to find exhaustion.
So this year we have travelled to another state, and left behind both the family events, and the Christmas services.
And so here I am today, Christmas day having a beautifully strange, simple, still Christmas.
Perhaps those three words themselves in connection to the birth of Jesus are worth some ponderings…and look, I just had time and space to do that.
Today, Christmas Day, I had no services to organise or lead, music to play, talks to give, textiles to assemble.
just wake up
walk to church
smile at their desperate opportunism
repent of my own
listen for God anyway
keep my mouth shut except to sing
sit and listen to the deluge of rain
think and wonder
in a little while I’ll make a simple meal to share with the three lads I love irreversibly
no more events or gatherings in the day
if the rain clears I’ll go for a run
meanwhile…the strange Christmas of simplicity and stillness.
In the stillness, after the long deep draught of solitude, my thoughts turn through my strange friend Jesus, to my other friends…
Merry Christmas to my ministry friends who are celebrating with the exercising of their gifts – may it by energising for you, as it has been many times for me. God is good.
Merry Christmas to my introvert friends who are celebrating in large gatherings – may you recognise the gift you are in the midst, even if you are oblivious to exactly how. I think Jesus was oblivious to the gift he was as he came into our midst through the body of a woman. God is good.
Merry Christmas to my ‘complicated family’ friends who are celebrating with some in joy whilst feeling loss and pain of others. May you be blessed in the veritas of lives that know we simply can’t have and do it all. Blessed are the mirage-breakers and the myth-busters.
Merry Christmas to my friends whose advent story is intertwined with the story of death. Whose Nativity plays are set in the theatre of mortality. This, too is a blessing of truth, to be found deeply woven in the texture of the gospels.
Merry Christmas to my mysterious, broken, offended, surprised, unresolved, frustrated, graced, mis-communicated, disappointed, unfinished, went-too-far, didn’t-go-far-enough, didn’t-turn-up, should-have-turned-up friends; we struggle to understand each other, and yet love each other nonetheless. Ours is the blessing of a God who, though being Word and mind beyond measure, chooses flesh, so limited and yet very present. Our loves are limited by our lack of understanding for each other, and yet delimited by the nature of love itself which surpasses understanding, and made possible by our simple and strangely shared creaturely existence with the reconciling God.
tidings of comfort and joy,
and simplicity, stillness and strangeness be yours.