My dear All Saints family,
Here we are in the third week of Advent, careening towards 4th Advent this Sunday morning. And then, by some miracle of quantum mechanics and “timey-wimey stuff” (for any Dr. Who fans out there), we’ll rocket through the fourth week of Advent in a mere few hours, arriving at Christmas by 7:30 that evening.
So, then, the important question is … what do you want for Christmas? : )
The older I get, the harder that question has become to answer. Early on, it was pretty easy: “Not socks!” After A.D. 1977, things got a little more specific: “Star Wars toys, please ~ any Star Wars toys!”
These days, my priorities seem to have shifted a bit. I remember with no small degree of longing that time when my sister and I gave our father ~ at the time, the Academic V.P. of a community college in southern Georgia ~ a clear glass, empty jar with a rather artistic hand-made label which identified the contents as “PEACE & QUIET.”
In point of fact, as my Christmases have begun to add up, I’m less and less interested in objects at all, however cool or clever such objects may be. In part, that’s probably because, having thrown myself into guitar as an obsession hobby at the age of 15, my “toys” have become way too expensive for Christmas presents…
But whatever the reason, today I am much more interested in exchanging those gifts which are even harder to package than peace & quiet: things like time ~ moments with those around me that can be truly content, wordless, utterly un-hurried; things like connectedness ~ opportunities to be with the people whose presence, whose existence, nourishes and rejuvenates me, without having to do anything; things like love ~ not to put too fine a point on it.
St. Paul’s famous meditation on the nature of love is oft associated (rightly) with weddings, but it applies here (and everywhere) with just as much relevance:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable; it keeps no record of wrongs; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Cor. 13:4-8a)
Y’all, I can’t think of anything more profoundly countercultural in these present days of stress, strife, anxiety, hurry, conflict, uncertainty, isolation, loneliness, despair, loss, and pain … than love, the kind of love that rises to the definition St. Paul offered to the believers in Corinth. May the gift of this love abound for you all this Christmas, as we prepare to receive yet again the greatest gift this world has ever seen, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
What more could we possibly ask for?
Merry Christmas, everyone!