Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Searching for Christmas

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," was one of my songs, growing up.  My dad and I would sing it in the car, while we were going to get the Christmas tree.  We would drive along the snowy roads of suburban Minnesota, past twinkling lights and shopping malls, and we would sing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" with all of the gusto we gave to the sacred songs.

Back then, I thought I knew what Christmas looked like.  It looked like the creche in our living room, with the figures I loved to move around, so that I could tell the story.  It also looked like the snowflakes on the window, the ribbon candy and peanuts they gave us in Sunday School, the angel wings and haloes, the tinsel on the tree.  It looked like the eighth floor of the department store downtown where we bought each other presents.  It looked like the whole extended family gathered around the table, a tree full of presents.  It looked like the new clothes we wore to the Christmas eve service.  It looked like snow.  I was dreaming of a White Christmas, even while I was singing "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."

This year I am serving a congregation in a different region of the country.  It doesn't look much like my conception of Christmas here.  Most of my Christmas decorations are still in Minnesota.  There is not room for a tree in my apartment.   I will not be surrounded by extended family this year; there will be no snow.  And I have caught myself wondering:  what does Christmas look like?

I would like to know it when I see it.

It is still Advent here, but not for long.  Soon people will be gathering to sing the carols and to hear the story, snow or not.  Some of them will be coming with extended family, reunited for the holiday.  Some will come alone.  Others may not come at all, will stay at home, wondering what Christmas looks like.  If the children aren't coming home, if there is no snow, if you don't have a festive meal with family, if you don't have a tree, if your Christmas this year doesn't look like the Christmases you remember:  What does Christmas look like?

I would like to know it when I see it.

So I am searching for Christmas right now, which is to say I am searching for a light in the darkness, the door that is open, the hand that will not let go.  I am searching for a pure note in the silence, tears of joy and grief, an unexpected gift, the word 'yes.'  I am searching for Christmas, by which I mean the smell of fresh hay, new babies and night air, the sound of whispers, the sight of snow, or a star, or a lightning bug.  The Word made flesh.  Where I am.  Not just memories.

I am searching for Christmas right now.  The Word made flesh.  Where I am.  Where you are.

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