’Tis the season! (I know, most of you are filling in, “to be jolly, fa la la la” etc., and cursing me for getting it stuck in your heads. Apologies!) Alas, the Christmas season is upon us. In the coming weeks, we will be stringing up twinkle lights on our rooftops and around our Christmas trees that we have trekked home through the snow and the cold. We’ll pull out the boxes of decorations and reminisce about where certain ornaments came from. Soon, we will be running into each other in stores and at the mall with our hands laden down with bags, and lists tucked into our pockets and purses. There will be days filled with flour and sugar and frosting, our homes floating with the smells of cranberries and cinnamon and peppermint. Our radios will be stuck permanently on twenty-four hour Christmas carol stations, and the dulcet tones of Andy Williams and Bing Crosby will remind us that we will be home for Christmas. (Although I know some of you have been rocking that Christmas music for a few weeks now, which means the rest of us will just try to catch up!) Just thinking about it is enough to fill your heart with joy, and your mind with anticipation. Yet, in all of those things…there seems to be one thing missing- Jesus. We spend all this time preparing for Christmas, but we spend very little time actually preparing for CHRIST!
It’s so hard, to keep your mind and your heart focused on where it needs to be in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this season. There’s so much to do, and so little time to do it in. There are so many things to check off the ‘to-do’ list that there’s rarely time for quiet, contemplative time with God. Then, suddenly it’s Christmas Eve and we’re wondering, “How on earth we got here; how on earth it’s time for Jesus already?” and it’s all gone in a blur. So here’s what we’re going to do as a congregation—we’re going to take Jesus with us in the midst of all of the prepping, planning and chaos. Now, I know, we do take Jesus with us every day, everywhere we go. Jesus’ presence stirs us and fills us with hope and love. However, we’re going to do this quite literally this Advent season. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the Flat Stanley stories, where kids are given their own Flat Stanley to take around and snap photos with. Well, this year, Grace Lutheran is having our own version of Flat Stanley, but instead it’s “Flat Jesus.” On the first Sunday of Advent (November 29) there will be copies of Flat Jesus available for you and your family to take home and decorate however you want. Once he’s prepped and ready for his debut, take him around with you, wherever your Christmas planning takes you. Take him to the Christmas tree farm. Have him “help” with the baking. Have him with you when you decorate your tree. Have him wrap a few presents. Whatever it is that you and your family do to prepare for and celebrate the holidays, take Flat Jesus with you, and TAKE PICTURES!! Take photos of Flat Jesus and post them to Facebook, post them to my page, send them to me in an e-mail, send them to the office in an e-mail, or print them off and bring us copies. Whatever is easiest for you to get your photos out there and your journey with Flat Jesus story told. After Christmas, we’ll put all of our photos together and have them on display for everyone to see. That way, we can see the vast and various ways that Jesus traveled with us through the Advent season. It may sound silly, but if there was ever a time to have fun, to be a little silly, and embrace your inner kid, it’s this time of year. I encourage everyone to do this! You don’t have to have kids to enjoy the fun. We all need the reminder that we are preparing for the Christchild’s coming. We all need the reminder that as we hurry and rush around, Christ is with us every step of the way. We all need a Flat Jesus in our pockets to nudge us and remind us what this whole season is all about in the first place. So have fun! Be a kid again. Make the most of it, and hopefully when Christmas Eve rolls around, you aren’t shocked by Christ’s sudden appearance, but will remember he’s been here the whole time.
I wish you a blessed, peaceful, restful, fun Christmastime. Thank you for the blessing that you are. Thank you for being the beacon of Christ’s love in a sometimes dark world. Thank you for being a people who have prepared for Christ’s coming and can’t wait for him to get here. Happy Advent and (an early) Merry Christmas!
Peace it Together,