Those of us who celebrate Lutheran Christianity are welcoming the season of Advent. It is a time of joyous anticipation of the Emanuel tradition, “God with us”. My church affiliation begins special services on Wednesdays up until the Christmas Eve candlelight celebration on December 24th. It’s all a part of appreciating the rites and traditions of an extended spiritual journey which has been taken with like-minded sojourners seeking sober-minded living within a drunken world system.
There has been much discussion regarding the reason for the season, Jesus, the Christ. No matter how a person dices it, the Christian depiction of the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem is Christmas. Matters not if a man doubts the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts of this story or if a man shouts “Hallelujah” this is literal truth, the essence of the season is the message shared by the mystical Jesus of Nazareth. He arrived on the scene amidst a society controlled by a hypocritical religious doctrine and governed by a ruthless Roman Empire.
We have been fooled by the marketing geniuses of retailers like WalMart, Target, Macy’s, and Amazon into believing that spending money is a prerequisite for holiday joy and happiness and that the spiritual path is merely a side story that pleases Christian scrooges. But scriptures tell us that this story is much more than powerful mega-retailers peddling their wares; it is about the arrival of truth and compassion on the world scene of brutality and intolerance which ruled 1st century Israel.
Many people dismiss that connection. I did for many years and allowed myself to be drawn into the holiday shopping frenzy, the mindless drive to please people I didn’t really like with nonsensical presents that they didn’t really like, and the partying into oblivion with my friend, alcohol. New Year’s Eve and January 1st usually found me too hungover emotionally, physically, and spiritually to even think about my soul’s path or the Father’s recently celebrated loving gift of Jesus to my life.
It’s a celebration, a birthday party, for the greatest humanitarian ever to walk the earth, for the greatest story ever told, and for the legendary purveyor of compassion and truth to a broken mankind. I am broken and I need that savior’s fix. I am searching and I rely on his message which was given for all of humanity. I am lost and I need a shepherd’s guiding voice.
I come to the birthday party just as I am, in rags, in turmoil, with shattered dreams and disillusionment. When I arrive, he puts his arms around me and shouts,
“Welcome to my party. All are invited and I have gifts for everyone. Merry Christmas.”