Christmas Eve is on a Sunday. We worship in the morning and many congregations have an evening service, also. It is a time of joy and glad tidings. We are happy ... or perhaps lonely ... maybe even more depressed because of Christmas.
Yet, when one observes the children attempting to re-enact the story of Jesus' birth, one cannot help but to smile. The sheep cannot stop scratching; the shepherds missed their que and enter along with the Magi. Someone stumbles in their costume and falls. The angel wings fall off. We smile.
No matter how one celebrates the Christmas story, one should recognize that we've made the story peaceful & safe & sometimes, funny. We don't consider the pain and concern of Mary ... the uncertainty of Joseph ... or the smell and noise of that event. We sterilize the Christmas story in the same way we sterilize the cross on which Jesus died. The Cross is clean & spinter-free. The barn is a clean, quiet, safe place. Baby Jesus just appears, clean and without pain. It is safe; it is organized.
Do something for me -- describe the birth of Jesus as you read it from scripture. Just the birth, that is the coming. What sounds do you 'hear' as God came into this world?
OK, got a list of the sounds? Probably not a long list, unless you really put a lot of thought into this - good for you, if so!
Now, make a list of the sounds of Advent - no I'm not repeating myself. The Advent is "The Coming" and Jesus has already come. The Coming that is yet to be is the return of God to earth. Look at scripture again. What are the Sounds of Advent?
A bit different, huh? List a little longer?
It is too bad that we sterilize both the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus and prefer not to think about the return of God.
God will return. It'll be noisy. It'll be filled with chaos and confusion. Don't sterilize these major events. They are dangerous - each one holds its own danger. Think about it this Christmas. Are you ready for the next time God comes to earth?