I was waiting for my booster vaccine at the pharmacy last week when I heard Christmas music playing throughout the store. My initial go-to reaction was to question, “Already?” But soon a delightful joy came over me. I sat quietly, absorbing the festive music, feeling the joy of the season, and dreaming of the preparations I love to do. When I later went on my way, I thought, “I needed this today.”
Oh, I know that there is a time and a season for everything. I am one who appreciates the quiet reflection, the Advent preparation, the patient restraint before the actual celebration of the Christmas season. I am comforted and steadied by my liturgical tradition of Advent waiting and then Christmas celebrating. For my own soul, the waiting is a treasured practice.
But since my experience at the pharmacy, I am questioning the protests against rushing the season, the assertions about waiting until the proper time to celebrate. I wonder if the focus on rules or reasons or rituals might distract us from the deeper, truer gifts that Christmas brings.
How much joy are we missing – or even rejecting – while we are waiting for the “proper” season?
Perhaps those of us who celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus can keep in mind that Christ is with us for all time (not just from December 25th to January 6th)… that Jesus came so we might experience his peace, hope, joy, and love in every day… that when people are living in the joy of celebration – even in November – the “reason for the season” is there, too… that the early seasonal displays also foster the spirit of giving, the desire to bring joy to others…
and that when we insist everyone should follow our tradition, use our holiday greeting, or adhere to our liturgical timing, we are imposing customs – not exhibiting Christ.
Wouldn’t we best exemplify God’s gracious love if we could honor and uphold all people, respect all diverse celebrations and premature festivities, and humbly keep our own practices and schedules? Wouldn’t our hearts expand if we could release our tendency toward criticism or correction, and instead, emulate the ever-present, welcoming love of Christ? Wouldn’t our world become softer and kinder if we could hold the spirit of the holiday all year long?
And wouldn’t our souls brighten if we could pause from defending our own faith practices or cultural traditions – and freely delight in the joy, hope, peace, and love that we encounter in a variety of beautiful ways?
Love has come for all of us.
Love has come unexpectedly, undeservedly.
Love has come for all time.
We can celebrate that every day!