It felt like it was 90 degrees and rising inside.
The giant store had just opened its doors the Friday before. My mom and sister had decided to take my four month old nephew on the “outing” and asked me to go.
The isles were over crowded with shopping carts that were overcrowded with Christmas crap. Trees and tinsel and toppers and table wear and tea cups and trinkets. Figurines and doodads and wall art and wreaths and giant boxes for storing it all just five weeks later.
We stood in a line thirty people deep to buy a reindeer table runner.
The scanners at the cash registers made their blipping noises without ceasing. The chip readers squawked with every new sale.
Mom and Sis didn’t mind the wait, because my sweet nephew was sleeping in his stroller. He needed to get his nap out.
The man behind us struck up a conversation about his kids and grandkids. Mom and Sis were kind and personable. I however, was impatient with the idle chitchat. (It’s one of those areas in which I’m still praying for pruning.)
I excused myself and stepped outside the massive building. While I waited there, I watched people come and people go with their packages. One mother chased her child across the busy parking lot and chided him for darting through traffic.
“Aw…” Christmas in 2017.
I wondered, “What the heck are we doing? And why do I let the stress and commercial hubbub surrounding Christmas turn me green and Grinchy?”
I felt like a jerk for feeling this way.
So, I asked myself a question…
What do the virgin and the census and the overcrowded inn and the shepherds and wisemen and the farm animals and the feed trough and the baby lying in it, have to do with our lives 2018 years later?
Honestly, I think that’s the problem.
We aren’t sure.
We know we are supposed to do something, feel something… but what?
What are we supposed to do with Christmas?
God leaves heaven? Enters our world as a baby?
The story in scripture seems unrelated to our noisy, face paced, high tech world.
Where are we supposed to put with the puzzling pieces of it all?
It’s tough to say.
So we buy stuff.
And deck the halls.
All the while dealing with real life problems behind a veil of holiday cheer. (And likely creating more problems as we buy and eat and placate.)
If our faith is to have a practical purpose in our every day lives, shouldn’t it be especially true at Christmas?
I know the answer is “Yes. Absolutely.”
And we must find it… The practical purpose of Christmas.
Not only the practical purpose but…
The power of Christmas.
We must not forget about the power.
I’m okay with being a bit Grinchy if I don’t stay stuck there.
For me, discomfort with my own status quo helps me grow.
And I’ve learned that questions pave the path forward.
So this advent season, I am asking myself,
How do I experience the power and practicality of Christmas in my every day life?
What does Chrismtas really have to do with me?
What problems does Christmas solve in 2017?
How can I participate in a way that gives my “faith” arms and legs and a “heart?”
I’m going to ask and answer out loud as best I can.
If you’d like to join me on this journey, sign up here-
Now I’m off to put up my tree…
Also published on Medium.