Mark 1: 1-8
Consider me in the lineage of Ebenezer Scrooge. He is my spiritual brother, my role model, my Polaris. He signifies every thing I feel at the beginning of Advent. Christmas is a season of unmitigated consumerism, egged on by the vast multinational corporations that seem to rule our lives. Even the ones I like, such as Barnes and Noble and Starbucks, have special items and events that they wait for Christmas to release on the public-a full third of the Barnes and Noble store up at the Arana Hub has been given over to games and puzzles, and the Christianity and Spirituality sections have been folded into the self help and “relationships”.
And the church? Humph. Everyone wants to talk about the coming of Christ, and that Advent is the time of waiting and Expectation. Waiting for what? For the son of God, they say. Well, I’m kinda sure that he was born about 2011 years ago. What are we waiting for? It’s a metaphor that just isn’t working for me at all. I’m not waiting. I just don’t have the time to wait. Waiting for something that has already come? Foolishness.
Heaven help me.
Then there are those people who insist of keeping Christ in Christmas. Somehow, the month of December is to be completely reserved for those who claim Christ as their lord and savior, as if the rest of the world has no right to celebrate their own traditions. Or, maybe they can, but just not here in America, thank you very much. In America, no matter what the Constitution says, you really shouldn’t acknowledge that you might not celebrate Christmas, and the neighborly thing to say when you really don’t know someone, Happy Holidays, is somehow offensive to people who seem to be properly insulted by the creeping consumerism we all live with. Right intent, wrong action. Right ammo, wrong deer.
For many of us, this time of year is not a time of gladness, and it is not a time of joyful tidings. It brings up old pains, and fresh wounds, just now beginning to scab over, feel like they get opened afresh, just a little bit. We remember people we love who aren’t with us, for whatever reason; they live too far away from us to see often, and regular contact has fallen off. Some people are separated by some of fight or resentment, and they may live close to each other, but haven’t talked to each other for years. Some miss loved ones who have died, whether it be recently or years ago.
This poem, by Ann Weems, sums it up well:
In the godforsaken, obscene quicksand of life,
there is a deafening alleluia
rising from the souls of those who weep,
and of those who weep with those who weep.
If you watch, you will see
the hand of God
putting the stars back in their skies
one by one
Some of us walk in Advent
tethered to our unresolved yesterdays
the pain still stabbing
the hurt still throbbing.
It’s not that we don’t know better;
it’s just that we can’t stand up anymore by ourselves.
On the way of Bethlehem, will you give us a hand?
Will you give us a hand? Lord, Who is our creator, will you send your love to us, so that we may feel you with us? Help us to climb out of this mire of rampant consumerism? Of lines at the Walmart that form at 9:00 on Thanksgiving night? Of people pepper spraying others to eliminate them from competition for the perfect toy? Of stores playing Christmas music the day after Halloween?
Will You give us a hand? Lord, who is our sustainer by the Holy Spirit, would you send your love to us, so that we might be able to love our neighbor? That we might find it in our hearts to wish all of those around us well, even those who do not believe as we do? Help us Lord, to be more secure in your love, so that we are not threatened by the beliefs of others, and that we might be people of good will to all, whether they celebrate Hanukah or Ashura?
Will you give us a hand? Lord, who is our redeemer in the person of Jesus Christ, will you send your love to us, so that we might be able to relieve the pain this season gives us? That we might be able to concentrate on the joy that the memories of those we love give us, and not focus so much on the pain of their departure, or separation from us?
Will you give us a hand? Lord, who is our Lord, will you send your love to us?
Will you send your love to us?
You already have. Two Thousand and eleven years ago. And the sending of your love is what we celebrate every year at this time.
God sent us God’s love in Jesus Christ. Through Christ, as an adult, and even in the circumstances of his birth, God showed his love for all people. From every other baby who ever was laid in a stinky, flea ridden, cold manger because their parents couldn’t afford decent lodgings, all the way up to babies with silver spoons.
God loved us so much that god sent his son. God did send a hand.
God did send God’s love.
Lord, help us find it again. Lord, help me find it again.