Monday, December 3, 2012

Leave the ranks and join the Joy

     I don’t know what my problem was in my senior year of collage except that perhaps I thought that I had learned so much that I was way too cool to like Christmas anymore. I started calling it The Silly Season and joined the ranks of other mooks who likened themselves to Ebenezer Scrooge, denouncing Christmas and those who held it in high regard, or worse, likening themselves to The Grinch who might take an active roll in trying to sabotage other’s Christmas spirit by perhaps going so far as to steal someone’s ice cubes.
     I remember however, striding through Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu and stopping for a moment a huge Santa’s Workshop display and seeing a line of children waiting on line to see Santa. The looks on those young faces were stirring. There was anticipation, joy and hope. My cold world full of Semester finals, bad news on TV and empty crumpled Marlboro boxes was lifted just a little. Then the Santa Claus looked at me and gave me a smile and nod. His face seemed to say “Is this great or what?” I smiled back and despite my efforts to the contrary, had a good rest of the day.
     Over the next few years, having a family with young children made Christmas a whole new thing to me. I learned something I had gotten just a hint of back in college. That Christmas means a whole lot more when you can share it with a young heart, or someone young at heart.
     Last night I was excited to see three of my children in the kid’s choir performance at our church. The musical play that is done twice a year is always preceded by the younger kid’s choir, The Wee Spirit Choir. Normally I would look at this as the part where I pay for the show. The kids are ages two to four. I remember it mostly being kids looking dazzled in the bright stage lights, wandering around, or waving to their parents. Last night was different. The kids stayed mostly in place and sang. It was nice.
But the youngest kid’s little performance was nothing compared to the audience. As the little children assembled on the stage, all around in front of me, cameras rose up. Dozens of illuminated rectangles, the displays from digital cameras came to life. Onstage there was fear, joy, resolve, trepidation and the singing of Christmas music by children too young to dislike anything about the Christmas Season. I looked around the room. I wanted to see the rest of the audience. Were they as enraptured as I was? At least the people in the rows around me who didn’t have little kids in this choir were charmed too. It was one of those magical Christmas events that I could remember for a long time. And all I was doing was sitting there watching other people express their joy, and proud family members sharing it.
Yesterday morning at that same church, our pastor said something significant that I also never wanted to forget. And I was thrilled that evening that what he said tied into that joy. Our pastor was reminding the congregation of what Jesus has done for us. Then he said something I had to write down right away”
In the heart and mind of God, we are the reason for the season.
That captured me. It’s all well and good to state that "Jesus is the reason for the season". But just like I as an adult, didn’t find true joy in Christmas until I was able to open up my heart to the joy, the real reason for Christmas is God’s love for His children and the most wonderful gift ever given.
I don’t expect to skip through the month of December singing Christmas carols and brewing over with holiday cheer. I may stumble. But I don’t want to glorify being a member of the Grinchy Scrooge ranks anymore. I want to remember where that joy can come from. The Christmas joy doesn’t only come from the children on the receiving end or the adults on the giving end. I discovered that sometimes just watching the joy being passed around is enough to lift my spirits. And I hope that I won’t forget that I am on the receiving end of God’s gift.
So for all of you charter members of the bah-humbug club who feel that they might want to step away from there, take heart. I am, we all are, including you, the reason for the season.

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