by Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey -
Christmas has gotten to be kind of complicated with layers of traditions, emotions and expectations. There is so much we could do and often feel like we must do, but this season is meant to be a reminder of the Joy we can know in our relationship with Jesus. This season, like all of our liturgical seasons, is to focus us on our faith life and our relationship with God, with Christ. So how do we stay emotionally and faithfully grounded in this season? Here are a few thoughts:.
1. Take time: Take time at the beginning of the season to plan out what is important to you and what you will do, not all you can do or should do and not what others want you to do, but what activities, practices, traditions matter to you to help you see Christ in your life this year.
2. Focus on the Scripture: The lectionary scriptures can feel stale after enough cycles, and there are a lot of questions about some of the gospel birth stories, and yet, reading these stories can help us focus on the why of the season. We are surrounded by the commercial of the season. In fact, the new movie out about Charles Dickens is called “The Man Who Invented Christmas” as if the story of Scrooge and his redemption is what Christmas is about. Be mindful of these distractions and bring yourself back to what the season is about for you..
3. Review your traditions: As we prepare to enter the Advent Christmas season, examine your family traditions and decide what truly serves your spirit and bond together. How can this tradition evolve this year? Who else in your circle can do or prepare for these traditions beside you? Invite them to take on some of these and also do some together (even if they will do it differently)..
4. Let Advent lead the way: Remember that Advent is not just a time to prepare the worship of the community for the coming of the Christ child; it is a time to focus our own hearts on the Christ. Meditate on what Peace, Hope, Love and Joy mean to you. You can also use the DSF Advent Devotionals as a daily resource: https://www.dsf.edu/advent.
5. Look for the Christ: I love the stories of Simeon and Anna that get read at this time of year. I always imagine Mary and Joseph carrying the new baby through the streets of Jerusalem. How many people would have seen that baby? I know when a new baby enters my space I have to go look. But these the faithful elders not only saw the baby, they recognized him..
Look for Jesus in each day of this season.
Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey is Co-Regional Minister and CEO for the Pacific Southwest Region, DSF Board Member, and alumna of Pacific School of Religion.