Christmas Traditions: The Activity

‘Tis the season. The hustle of the marketplace. The long hours of traveling. The lights, the sounds, the frantic purchasing and jostling in long lines of people. Busy crowds of people with an agenda.

Christmas shopping

Such was the scene Mary and Joseph happened upon as they entered Bethlehem. She swollen with child. He weary from a journey of long miles. But they were focused on only one activity: He was coming! And soon. She found no cradle but cradled her new Child on rough wood hewn from a tree. It wouldn’t be the last time He lay against a Tree.

‘Tis the season. Another day at the job. Distant voices on the street call to remind working men and women of the out-of-the-norm. But life must go on. Families must be fed and livelihoods maintained. The bustle of frantic purchasers continues, sneering at common laborers who have no reprieve from another night’s work to join in the mayhem. Then a carol breaks through. Bright lights. An invitation.

Merry Christmas 2007

Such was the scene on the hillside for a group of rag-tag men called shepherds. They, the off-scouring of society, smelling of sheep and the outdoors. Then the humdrum was revolutionized by a Grand Choir singing the first of carols to the season. And their focus blurred before becoming crystal clear: He was coming! And soon. They left the sheep to find the Lamb.

‘Tis the season. Of preparation. Buying gifts, packing them for travel and heading to far away places to celebrate. Stars atop trees beckoning. Whispering the message of the Reason long forgotten. Yet the Reason is still forgotten. No one remembers the King. They have set up kingdoms for themselves and pseudo-worship that begets avarice rather than adoration. Lust for power rather than love for the Potentate.

Santa was generous

Such was the scene of a group of men seeking for the King of the Jews. Expecting the bustle of the crowded city to be other seekers, they found instead that no one was prepared for Him. Reaching the palace, they found another ruler in His place. Their focus of many months had been one thing: He was coming! And soon. They sidestepped the king to find the King.

‘Tis the season. Business as usual in the place of worship. Obligatory offerings. Order and ritual. Age-old readings of the Book that prompt nods of familiarity without fire. It is  just another day to be about religion. Nothing is new. It has been heard for many years, many seasons. The sameness of a Law written in ink but not yet in Blood.

Polish Ambassador to Armenia at the church service

Such was the scene for Simeon and Anna. Elderly. Stooped. In the place where they had spent their lifetimes. The rituals about them serving as beacons of light for one thing: He was coming! It had to be soon. They might have missed Him, but they saw the child-bride and the rough carpenter bringing in the humblest of offerings and a Baby. They laid aside the age-old words to hold in their hands the Ancient Word.

‘Tis the season. You and I go about the hustle and bustle of the marketplace. We see the lights,  hear the carols, buy the gifts and travel miles. We celebrate with dinners and parties and programs. Do we remember His coming? That He came as a newborn to bring us new life. That he called shepherds away from their sheep to attend to the Lamb. That He crumbled kingdoms based on lust to bring us into the Kingdom of Love. That He took the very words recorded by scribes over centuries and gave them Flesh and Bone.

Do we remember His coming? Because just as they waited in readiness, so we wait. He is coming! And soon.

 

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