We’re making our lists and checking them twice. Maybe even 3 or 4 times. There’s so much to do!
Yes, isn’t that the irony of the season?
As the holiday has evolved — knowing evolution often distorts meaning and potentially reality — perhaps our most significant progression of the meaning of Christmas is that we’ve centered so much of the meaning around what we are doing as opposed to who we are being.
What do we do?
Hang the stockings with care.
Roast chestnuts (ok, so maybe not really… remember the distortion of reality…)
Wrap more presents.
Call our mothers.
Dress up like eskimos.
Run to the grocery.
Stand in line at the post office.
Finish up work.
Purchase one more gift card.
Deliver those gift cards.
Eat some more.
The point is that we focus on the doing. Truth is, that seems our human nature.
As the events of the past week have unfolded — as we’ve grieved the horror of happenings in Newtown, Connecticut — in our passionate, admirable need to respond — we continue to focus on what we can do… establish tougher gun control laws… put guns in every school… invest more in mental health… tinker with the 2nd amendment… etc. etc. etc. The point is that it seems our innate human response is to attempt to do something… as if we, yes, we, can control it. We can stop this from happening if we only do something.
It is a far more ambiguous, intangible — albeit rewarding, growth-oriented — practice to focus on who we are… who we are and what we were created to be. It takes more time; it’s not as black and white; it’s less legalistic. It also causes us to be still… to pause, reflect, and take both ownership and responsibility for our individual strengths and weaknesses, our right and wrongful thinking. Newsflash, friends: we each have all of the above.
That’s hard to wrestle with. It is challenging indeed, for example, to actually wrestle with what caused that gunman to snap, mercilessly murdering those innocent children. What was in his head? Where was the wrongful thinking? How has society contributed to that? Where have we morally accepted what is not good and true and right? Where is my wrongful thinking? Where am I not acting and behaving and thinking as wisely as I should?
In order to answer those questions accurately, I need to be still, wrestling with the rawness of the answer. Wrestling, though, often makes us uncomfortable. Hence, we jump into doing — because doing is actually easier than being.
The coming of Christmas is not about candles and cookies nor even chestnuts nor children. The meaning of Christmas centers around the incarnation of a God who loves us because of who we are — not because of anything that we do.
Who are we? Persons with individual strengths and weaknesses, even right and wrongful thinking… persons tempted to do.