It’s that time of year again, people are preparing for Christmas. Everyone seems to be in such a hurry, shopping and buying gifts, office Christmas parties, parties with friends…the list of distractions go on and on. With so much busyness in the world around us, we all need to take an opportunity to step back and slow down.
I find it sad that Advent and the “Christmas Season” have become so commercialized. As a society, we’ve lost our focus and forgotten why this time of year is celebrated. This is nothing new; dating back to the 17th century, Christmas revelries became so rampant that England and Puritans of New England actually outlawed the celebration of Christmas.
We fast, we pray, we read the holy scriptures and Fathers, we sing hymns of the season to help us keep our bearings in the tempest of the world. We are called to keep our focus, much as the Magi did, on the star, directing our hearts to the cave to greet the Christ child and celebrate the beauty of the Incarnation. I love to give gifts and share the love that God has bestowed on us with friends and family, but I, like many others I assume, have to remind myself to offer my gifts to Christ, to bring my proverbial gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the manger. And it’s a great time to receive gifts from God, gifts like forgiveness through the mystery of repentance/confession.
I know it’s hard to keep our focus, but it’s something we should be continually readjusting our minds and hearts to do. I plan to spend the next 3 weeks reflecting on the words of the 9th Ode from the Orthodox Orthros/Matins service:
I behold a strange and wonderful mystery: the cave a heaven, the Virgin a cherubic throne, and the manger a noble place in which hath laid Christ the uncontained God. Let us, therefore, praise and
May we all find the true joy of the season as we celebrate the miraculous birth of Christ, God becoming man through the Incarnation as we meet our Lord at the cave.