Opening Prayer. God, make within me the space that can hold and frame the holy events of this season, that I may be a place of comfort and rest for myself and others. Amen.
Scripture. Psalm 127: 1 New Oxford, RSV.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Being Like the Stable at Christmas. From Janet Hagberg.
Each year, right around Halloween, I look forward to which part of the nativity story God will “assign/invite” me to embrace as a symbol of my life through Advent. This year I was surprised and—I think—pleased to be given the stable to ponder. The first image that comes to me when I reflect on that word is the physical structure that encased the holy family, animals, and guests that sacred night. The stable becomes the shelter, the hospitable welcoming place, the comfortable soothing place. In its simple and solid way, it held and framed the events and wonders that emerged as Love was birthed into the world.
In my life I’ve consciously tried to reframe and reimagine Advent and Christmas. I’ve “restructured” them, made them smaller, quieter and more soothing, which is very hard in this culture. As I do that, I’ve found God right in the middle of all of this holy time. For instance, in the past all the pressure about spending and shopping for the right gifts (the Black Friday frenzy) triggered my shopping addiction and created more havoc in my life—not to mention financial stresses. Now I give very small gifts (all the same gifts) to fewer people and then I am freer to focus on the weekly retreat experience I do with a friend each year during Advent. The retreat experience helps me become more like the stable; able to hold and frame the holy events of the season, as a comfort for others and for myself.
Invitation to Further Reflection.
This restructuring has helped me to focus on what is most important about Christmas for me. What would you say is most important about Christmas for you?
Closing Prayer. Spirit, breathe in me, a breath of surprise- one that opens me to be the space of shelter and welcome to the advent of your love in the world. Amen.