Michael and I bought a Christmas tree yesterday from a lot close to our house. After seeing the picture on the left, I realize I need to trim some of its branches. On second thought, I’ll probably leave it as is to work on my perfectionism a bit!
I’ve always hated the Christmas season. This year a couple of local stores opened on Thanksgiving night so that folks could begin there Christmas shopping! I hate shopping for anything and Christmas is the worst. This year I’ve decided to get all the adults presents from an Alternative Gift market at my church. I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to get yet but I’m going to choose from Homeward Bound of Asheville, Veteran’s Restoration Quarters, Mark Hare, PCUSA Missionary as well as several others.
I have worried about my bare tree as well. My husband, Michael, is really really swamped at work now so decorating it falls on me. However as I was doing my Advent devotional this morning, I thought about waiting for a bit and leaving it bear. After all, Advent is all about waiting.
The devotional I’m using this year is Preparing for Christmas by Richard Rohr. He writes in his introduction, “Jesus identified his own message with what he called the coming of the ‘reign of God’ or the ‘kingdom of God,’ whereas we had often settled for the sweet coming of a baby who asked little of us in terms of surrender, encounter, mutuality or any studying of the Scriptures or the actual teaching of Jesus. Sentimentality, defined as trumped-up emotions, can be an avoiding of and substitute for an actual relationship, as we see in our human relationships, too.”
Yesterday when we went to the Christmas tree lot, I saw the shining eyes of two little children as they took in the surprising and wonderful sights around them. This is what Advent and Christmas is about. As Mark Ramsey said in his sermon yesterday, “Advent is a yearly reminder that God is able to surprise us. Perhaps we ought to think of church as training in the skills required for following this living, surprising, interrupting God!”
So with Richard Rohr’s devotional in hand, I look forward to being surprised this Advent season.