Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
C.S. Lewis has a great essay entitled, “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus.” It’s a clever piece that speaks of a distant land where people celebrate two different festivals. Some celebrate something called ‘exmas.’ They labor for weeks on presents and exmas cards (dreading receiving a card from someone they didn’t send one too), and when the day comes they are so exhausted that they end up celebrating by sleeping half the day, eating too much, and drinking too much (trying to forget how much they spent). There are others who celebrate ‘Crissmas’ though, and those wake up early on the festival and pay homage to images of a beautiful woman with a new-born child on her knee. The question is asked why those who celebrate Crissmas do it inconveniently on the same day as exmas, but they reply that it cannot be changed. If only exmas were celebrated at a different time, because it distracts from the truly sacred festival.
Of course what’s so clever is that it captures how today, seemingly, there are two very different celebrations at this time of year. One is commercial, one is religious. One is exhausting and draining, one is challenging but fulfilling. And as much as they fall on the same day, they are completely disconnected. Moreover, the commercial one actually makes it far more difficult to celebrate the religious one.
What this means for us as people of faith then, is that we have to ask ourselves – which do we celebrate? Do we get caught up in all the hustle that, in the end, is not really about Christ at all? Are we so caught up in the superficial, that we don’t celebrate what really brings joy? Hopefully we want to give the right answer, but we also realize it’s something we have to work at, and that’s what Advent is all about. We take this time to stop and appreciate what it is we are truly celebrating: that God Himself became one of us to save us, that love is what actually fills our hearts.
Let’s take some time today to think about how to better focus on what’s truly important. Hopefully we’re finding some more time to pray, thanking God for the gift of His Son, evaluating our lives and where we’re off track. Maybe we’re also making an effort to fast, rather than indulging in Christmas food and drink and music so that we hate Christmas by December 25th, we deny ourselves – finding silence, feeling hungry, looking forward to enjoying those things when the day does come. Perhaps we agree as a family to spend less, or give some more to the poor, remembering how blessed we are and how it isn’t the gifts that bring happiness.
In all of these ways we can start to change our perspective and leave behind what the world values, seeking instead the things of God. We can let go of so much of the madness, for what is sane. By celebrating Advent, we can wake up on the 25th and know that while exmas has ended, Christmas will have only just begun.
Yours in Christ,