Can we extend the Advent season another week or two? I just seems to go too fast. I know that we are actually entering the Christmas season (December 25 – January 6) which is really the period sung about in the 12 Days Of Christmas, but it seems like Christmas ends on December 25th. For me, everything after that is anti-climatic. I want another few weeks to shop, eat cookies, gather with friends, sing Christmas songs and enjoy the “Christmas Spirit.”
When we talk about the “Christmas Spirit” we are referring to an attitude that permeates and is prevalent during the period leading up to Christmas day. It is an attitude of kindness and generosity, an attitude of celebration and anticipation. I have always loved the scene from the Honeymooners where Ralph waxes poetic to his wife Alice about Christmas time.
You know something, sweetheart? Christmas is… well, it’s about the best time of the whole year. When you walk down the streets, even for weeks before Christmas comes, and there’s lights hanging up, green ones and red ones, sometimes there’s snow and everyone’s hustling some place. But they don’t hustle around Christmastime like they usually do. You know, they’re a little more friendlier… they bump into you, they laugh and they say, “Pardon me. Merry Christmas”… especially when it gets real close to Christmas night. Everybody’s walking home, you can hardly hear a sound. Bells are ringin’, kids are singing, the snow is coming down. And boy what a pleasure it is to think that you’ve got some place to go to. And that the place that you’re going to, there’s somebody in it that you really love. Some one you’re nuts about. Merry Christmas.
In many ways 2016 has been filled with acts of violence, stress and angst: Terror attacks, the civil war in Syria, the Zica virus, police shootings and a tumultuous presidential campaign. Where is the Christmas Spirit during these times? Where is the “Peace On Earth” we sing about? Perhaps our great challenge is to bring the Spirit of Christmas not just during Christmas but all year long. We overcome the evil of the world by bringing the presence of Jesus into every area of our lives.
Howard Thurman (1899- 1981), the prominent African American author, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader, wrote the poem “I Will Light The Candles This Christmas” in 1973, a year that had its own share of tumult and heartache including the beginning of the Watergate hearings, the IRA bombings in Northern Ireland, the Yom Kippur War and the passage of Roe vs. Wade which made abortion a constitutional right. It is a poem that is relevant for us today:
I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations
To bring peace among others
Can we bring the Christmas Spirit beyond Advent and the season of Christmas? As God fills our hearts with His Spirit what greater gift can we give to the world than to live the love of Jesus all year long?
What do you think? How does it make you feel?