Dear Grow Christians Community,
Merry Christmas, friends. For our household, this morning feels like we’ve finally reached the finish line of the most grueling ultramarathon race in history. Today we are putting aside the hallmarks of our 2020: anxiety, despair, and decision fatigue, so we can make room for twelve full days of joy and Jesus.
We will worship together for the first time in many Christmas mornings, snuggled together on the couch in our Christmas jammies to watch the Christmas jazz service from Saint Michael and All Angels in Dallas. What says joy better than Christmas carols played on saxophones?
Our morning will be intentionally slow. December 25th doesn’t carry the same energetic frenzy for our children as it did for me growing up. Santa doesn’t visit our household and instead of opening present after present for two full hours, we only open a few. The rest of the gifts are spread out over the course of the following eleven days so we can savor the whole season. This slows the pace of our Christmas morning, which as an exhausted parish priest married to another exhausted priest, I really appreciate.
At the beginning of the month, I saw this post on Building Faith and immediately printed, laminated, and gift wrapped the linked Daily Guide for 12 Days of Christmas Joy for my family. What I realized as I read through the guide is that while our family opens presents throughout the whole twelve day season, we don’t really talk about Christmas for twelve days. We don’t wonder aloud about the incarnation and what it meant for people in Jesus’ time and what it means for us today. I think this guide will help us, so I wrapped it up, addressed it to my children, and put a little circled 1 on the gift tag so we’ll remember to open it today.
For households with younger children, Traci Smith’s printable Twelve Days of Christmas Cards might be more your speed. Each card includes an image from the Christmas story along with a conversation questions related to a spiritual practice. In addition to keeping focus on the full season, they’d make a lovely addition to your mantle once the stockings hung with care two weeks ago are no longer there.
Ultimately, what I want us to remember all twelve days is the word Emmanuel, God is with us. Yes we’ve run an ultramarathon in 2020, but we made it to Christmas, something I never thought possible six months ago. Christmas always serves as the annual reminder that God is indeed with us, part of our world and part of our lives. But this year, that reminder seems even more important.
When so many of us are spending Christmas without people we love, we must remember that God is here. The Christmas story is a story of joy, hope, and so much love. God loved us so very much that God sent Jesus into the world to live among us. To teach us, heal us, lead us, and save us. Presiding Bishop Curry said in his 2020 Christmas message, “Through streaming tears and gritted teeth – Joy to the world! – because God is breaking into our lives and into this world anew….the Lord is come. In your hearts, in your homes, in your lives, prepare him room.”
Emmanuel. I hope you are able to make room for joy and Jesus this Christmas season.