An image I had of a “Gentle Christmas” is that it might mean to handle ourselves and each other with the same care and attention as we hold that lit candle at the Christmas eve service. I believe it’s important to have real candlelight on Christmas Eve. I know there are safer ways. And yet we use real candles because life itself is risky. We hold those candles not passively, but gently. And when we do there is something so gentle about the light a real candle gives off that for the few moments I hold it, the glow allows me to be mindful of the depth and danger of the beauty that is before me.
There is so much pressure at this time of year to get things right: The right present for the kids. The right tree, the right lights put up outside to say nothing of the right mood we think we’re suppose to be in. These days, remembering we live in a much more diverse culture, we worry about getting what we say right. Is it Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever else is most politically correct? Give yourself a break even if you mess something up…. Believe me there is always a bit of wax on the carpet the day after Christmas Eve.
Messing something up is what we often find out is happening in the untold stories of Christmas that we are listening to in the four Sundays before Christmas Day. There is Zechariah who can’t believe the Angel, the Innkeeper who doesn’t have room. The story of Christmas is not that everybody got everything right, but that God came to share life with us, especially when we don’t. And so maybe having a gentle Christmas is not getting everything right, but giving ourselves over to the love and acceptance God intends for each and every one of us to experience.
Finally, in a world that is growing ever more confusing and concerning, the last thing we need is a subdued or quiet Christmas. We need the inspiration and courage that comes gently and because it is gentle, it is also firm, decisive, powerful. The roots of a gentle Christmas are deep; they can take hold of us and hold us up.
The real story had the danger of fires lit near straw and the messiness of a woman giving birth alone. From the real story of Christmas, with all its messiness, is born the faith that can change your life and the world.
Have a Gentle Christmas Season,
Keep the Faith,