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'Winging It

    by Stan Smith

Finding Christmas
Date Posted: January 19, 2022

In the classical (or liturgical) churches there is a season known as "Advent". It is the classical Christmas season. But it's much more than "Christmas". You've seen, I'm quite sure, Advent calendars. They cover several weeks, not just one day, you see. "Advent" comes from the Latin, adventus – "The coming". That's the idea. And the idea of Advent (rather than just "Christmas") is the entire coming-of-Christ concept.

I have a problem with Christmas. Always have. Christmas, you see, has always been so cluttered with “Buy this” and “Decorate that” that Christ has always been rather hard to see. Connecting “lights on the tree” with “the star of Bethlehem” is all well and good, but not too practical. Recognizing the “everlasting life” in the dead “evergreen tree” in my house is possible, but not easy. Visualizing “gifts for everyone I know” as “gifts from the Magi to the child” can be done, but it seems all askew to me. And before long I end up a Scrooge. Bah! Humbug! Because the reality of the celebration of the Incarnation seems so often so far from the practical celebration we see. I think I need, instead of merely Christmas, an Advent season.

Advent is slow. It happens over the entire month. Like the Advent calendar revealing hidden treats every day, Advent provides constant reminders from Scripture and other sources that Jesus is coming. Advent is not constructed on the commercial structure that much of Christmas is today. It’s not about me, what I want, or how pretty I can make it. Instead it incorporates simple things like calendars, candles, readings and songs to build up, day by day, to the wonderful celebration of the Coming of Christ.

Finding Christmas. That’s what I need to do. I can do it by reading the Bible stories again. And again. I can do it be reminding myself of the origins of Christmas, first in its biblical versions and then by the origins of various traditional components that have been added. Saint Boniface, declaring the gospel to the Germans, cut down a sacred oak tree. It fell on an evergreen, but the little tree survived without a problem. That’s the Christ we worship. Martin Luther, seeing stars through pine trees, sought to share the wonder of God’s creation with his children by putting a fir tree in his house decorated with candles. All things that were made were made by Him. Santa Claus originated in Saint Nicholas who gave liberally to those in need. Christ is God’s liberal gift to us. Christmas caroling was originally called "wassailing". “Wassail” comes from Old Norse and meant "be well, and in good health"; it was originally designed to go from house to house wishing your neighbors health and well-being. The “law of Christ” is to love one another. These are good things. Not nearly as good as the Incarnation, to be sure, but good things. And letting the dross get in the way of the gold would just prove to be my own loss, wouldn’t it?

Sure, there are lots of things wrong with Christmas celebrations today. A sour attitude or missing it entirely because of what is wrong would be foolish. I think I’ll go find Christmas again, because there really is no better news than that God sent His Son for us.

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Biography Information:
Born and raised in a Christian home, I've been treated to immersion in the Word and squandered it. 'But God ...' I love the phrase. God has been faithful when I was unfaithful. At every turn He has crowded me to Him.

I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.

For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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