This year our Advent midweek gatherings at STL we are calling “Advent CHRISTMAS CAR-oling” events. Noon is indoors, but our evening version is at 7:00 in our front parking lot. And – WOW – talk about fun! Week One gave me a huge kick-start into the holiday spirit.
At noon 10 of us gathered in the sanctuary. That evening we had 10 cars bringing around 20 people to our front lot. I do not really know how many joined us online or in the apartments across Kelly. I am simply praying that these events gave the same kick-start to the others as it did to me.
Rather than drop-kicking Christmas into the depths of the sea because of the pandemic, I truly believe a kick-start to the season is just what the doctor is ordering. Simply ridding ourselves of the evil is never the whole solution. And half a solution is really no solution at all!
Jesus puts it this way: “When an unclean spirit comes out of a person it roams through waterless places looking for rest, and not finding rest, it then says, ‘I’ll go back to the house that I came from.’ Returning, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that person’s last condition is worse than the first.” (Luke 11.24-26) The necessary second half of the equation is filling the cleaned house with the Holy Spirit. Or, as Jesus explains a couple verses later, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11.28)
Kick-starting Christmas is really about getting a jump on making 2021 a year to be remembered with joy. It includes singing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” – as we did last night. It includes praying, “Be near me Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray.” – as we sang last night. It includes recalling, “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given as God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven!” – as, you guessed it, we did under last night’s stars. Don’t you wonder what next Wednesday will bring?
OK – I get it. Christmas is going to be different this year. However, all or nothing is not the solution. Rather, I recommend using “creative charm” to fill the voids caused by the COVID. Monica and I, instead of spending our annual day Christmas shopping this year – which is usually punctuated with breakfast at Panera, lunch at Macy’s for their famous Maurice Salad, and then dinner somewhere close to home – we are driving to Frankenmuth to see the lights. We have also been walking through our neighborhood to do the same … with downtown Rochester and the Detroit Zoo also on our radar.
Last night when we got home from CHRISTMAS CAR-oling we watched Christmas at the Rockefeller Center. I am reading – and enjoying – the daily Advent devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries. We are texting, face timing and phoning friends more often than ever before. And this coming Monday evening STL’s Hymn Sing-Along with Tony will begin a month of Christmas music. Do you get it?
It’s all about kicking out the blues and blahs and kick-starting Christmas. Instead of getting upset I actually laughed to myself last night when the TV performers’ songs repeatedly used the words “Christmas” and “Jesus”, along with many Christian themes … only to have those same entertainers close their performances by saying “Happy Holidays”! Instead of getting upset about things, I think this is a great time to follow God’s lead … of taking great joy in making silk purses out of sow’s ears.
I hope you get it … and if you do, please let me know how you are going to use your creative charm to kick-start Christmas this week.