BY THE REV. CORY L. KEMP |
While we are a few days past Christmas Day, we are still very much embraced by Christmastide. Celebrated by most Christian churches, Christmastide follows Advent on our liturgical calendar. Starting with Christmas Day and continuing through January 5, there are twelve days of rejoicing, visiting, singing and worshipping to remember the
birth of Christ.
What does Christmastide give us? This magical season of the church year gives us three important lessons that may seem obvious. But each carries deep meaning and wonder if you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your awareness and learning from each one.
The first lesson of Christmastide is that birth is only the beginning of a new life.
We put a lot of emphasis on when a baby is going to be born, planning, preparing and creating space in our homes and lives. Expecting a child, biologically or through adoption, is profoundly exciting, as well as humbling, and a little bit terrifying. So many hopes and dreams, and, of course, love, are poured into each of us, even before we
ever make our arrival. And just when you think your love has grown so much you will burst, the baby finally does arrive. And your love grows even more. Christmastide gives us time with Jesus, this new baby whose life has just begun. This season reminds us that Jesus’ life began at Christmas, and he grew into the man we know as our Savior.
The second lesson of Christmastide is that new life is welcomed into the history of a community.
One of the first things we notice about new babies is who we think they look like, whose temperament they may have inherited. From there, we start dreaming dreams, hoping our hopes and envisioning who this new person will become. We want to understand the context into which this particular human being has come in relationship
to all the others who have come before.
What was going on in the world the day you were born? Jesus’ world was filled with power struggles among rulers, poverty and oppression. On his birthday we are told that his parents were traveling to pay their taxes in person, but didn’t quite plan on spending the night in a stable or welcoming their child into the world. The animals stayed nearby, shepherds wandered in from their fields, angels showed up and sang. Things happened on the day of his birth. And many things happened before he was born that shaped his Jewish heritage, traditions and faith. None of us is born in isolation; we are each born into a context, a known world that influences us our whole lives. Christmastide gives us some space to consider Jesus as a person of his times. Christmastide give us some space to consider Jesus with us here and now in our times.
The third lesson that Christmastide teaches us is that Christmas is a season of new life embraced by community.
Our hope and expectation, Jesus has now appeared. And each time we celebrate this incredible gift from God coming to join us on earth, we are changed. We are more. We are stretched out of our comfort zone, called upon to do great things we didn’t know we could do, even some things we don’t really want to do, but know we must. When we do this, we individually and collectively become more. Mostly, we are called to see ourselves as more and act from that strength and power.
We don’t all do this at the same pace or in the same time frame.
The gentleman serving me coffee before I started my grocery shopping on Christmas Eve had had a rough day before I showed up; challenging customers had taken a heavy toll on his psyche and holiday spirit. He had specific ideas about how they should be
behaving. He wanted everybody else to catch up with him and see things as he did. He wasn’t budging from his position.
What I know is that this new life our communities draw into themselves this time of year carries lots of diverse opinions, beliefs, personalities and relationships. What I also know is that our being changed has nothing to do with our judgments of other people, no matter how well-meaning we feel they are. Because when we can release our
judgments, let go of our need to be right, we are profoundly changed during this Christmastide season.
In these twelve days of Christmastide, may you experience these three lessons, and more, rejoicing in God, who has given us the greatest gift of the season once again.
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom and joy.
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