In my kitchen is my family’s Advent calendar. The calendar is large, made of felt, and has dates embossed on little pockets. Inside each pocket is a Christmas character. We have magi, camels, angels, and even a Christmas goose. On the Nativity scene above the pockets, there is a piece of Velcro for each character to be stuck to. Every morning, I pick up my two year old or four year old (or both) and we empty a pocket, adding that character to the Nativity. Sometimes the Christmas goose ends up in the manger or the camel ends up in the sky. Other times I let my two kids change the entire scene. Once they’re distracted by something else, I stick everything into a more traditional setup. My daily countdown to Christmas involves letting a little chaos happen before sorting everything out.
This year we also counted down to Christmas is a different way. Kids in our Sunday School invited the entire congregation to create a Reverse Advent Calendar. Each family picked an organization to support (a food pantry, homeless services organization, etc.) and each day we placed an item in a box to support that organization. My family spent the month filling a cardboard box with diapers, baby food, and pacifiers. We wanted to help a family with a newborn baby. When a character left their pocket in the Advent calendar, a new item for a baby was given to help someone in need.
We spend months counting down to Christmas but I wonder if we should be counting down at all. Maybe we should be counting “up” to Christmas. We can’t countdown to something that has already happened and Jesus was born 2000 years ago. But we can look forward to what Christmas means for us today. God chose to live a human life. Jesus needed to experience everything we experience. In Jesus, we see how God loves the world. Through his life, we see what God’s love does for the poor, marginalized, and everyone in need. And in his death and resurrection, we watch as God refuses to let our brokenness be our final word. Darkness, despair, frayed relationships, sorrow, and pain will not be what we to offer the world. By coming down to us, God gave to us the faith, love, and support we need to live lives that reflect God’s love full into the world. When our countdown to Christmas runs out, that doesn’t mean Christmas is over. Christmas is already here. Christmas is all year long. Our calling is to love like it’s Christmas every day.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 12/24/2016.