What would Jesus like? – December 2014

It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving, as I sit to write about the coming seasons of Advent and Christmas – the brief and beautiful seasons in which we prepare for the birth of our Savior – making ourselves ready for Christ’s ongoing birth in us. And as we make ready again to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, here I am, asking again, “what would Jesus like for his birthday?”

A question that seems more urgent each year, as the season that competes with Advent and Christmas goes into high gear. The season that used to start with ‘Black Friday’ – so named, because this was the day on which The Christmas Industry used to start operating in the black, financially. I say “used to” – because a recent Boston Globe article says Black Friday is now dead – the victim, the Globe says, of “Darwinian destruction.” Which sounds like good news to me. Except the bad news is that Black Friday has reportedly been replaced by Black Thursday – or, as the Globe says, “the day formerly known as Thanksgiving.” Which of course is only the next beachhead. And the story continues, saying: “…an executive at Walmart quipped recently, the new Black Friday should simply be called “November.””

And at the risk of belaboring what was once-upon-a-time considered obvious – I don’t think this is really the way God wants us to celebrate the birth of his Son.

So I’m challenging all of us again to be the alternative. To live into our Advent and Christmas seasons in ways that bring us closer to Jesus – better able to communicate the love of our Savior to others. I leave it to each of us and the Holy Spirit to determine the specifics of what that means for each of us. But I hope we will all keep all our seasonal practices in prayer, and listen attentively for the Spirit’s leading.

For me, the key is recovering simplicity and focus. It’s still a struggle… Traditions can help. Our family will continue our practice of giving only a few small gifts (usually one each). We’ll decorate a small tree and sing Christmas carols. We’ll help with hanging of the greens and welcoming the season in song in our churches. We’ll try especially to make extra time for appreciating the presence of God – spending time in prayer and contemplation, time reading the bible. Time reaching out in simple ways, such as helping with our annual Thanksgiving meal at Cataumet.

Our Thursday bible study group will be reading Isaiah in Advent, looking especially at texts which prepare us for Jesus, such as chapters 2,9, 11, 12, 35, 40… I hope you will join us. No previous experience with Isaiah necessary. We’ll be setting aside extra time for praying for God’s people, here and everywhere. We’ll be adding a new late afternoon Christmas Eve service at 4, to go with our 7 pm service at Cataumet and our 9 pm at Bourne, to see if we can reach people and families we aren’t reaching yet. We’ll spend extra time this year in church, singing the songs of Advent and Christmas. We’ll challenge each other to make more time for giving of ourselves to Jesus and his kingdom.

Which is still the one thing I hear Jesus really asking… for His birthday.

The grace and peace of our Lord and Savior be with you always,

Pastor Tim