For many denominations, this week marks the beginning of the Advent season, a time for reflection on the coming of Jesus Christ. When our children were young, we instituted an Advent tradition that I cherished. We would set up the nativity scene (a replication of the scene of the birth of Jesus) and then we would give each child one of the porcelain “Wise Men” statues from the crèche and they would take it their bedroom. On each of the succeeding Sundays of Advent, the children would move the Wise Men statutes a bit closer to the manger. The idea was that the children and the Wise Men were on a journey to discover Jesus that culminated in a joyful arrival on Christmas day. Now, our kids are grown and on their own and Jennie and I are lucky if we get the nativity set up before Christmas Eve. It feels like much of the splendor of Christmas centers on children, and when they are grown a bit of the grandeur disappears as well.
And, maybe that’s OK if there isn’t as much magic in Christmas anymore. After all, Christmas is a made-up holiday. December 25th was deliberately chosen as the date of Christ’s birth by the Catholic church to coincide with a pagan holiday celebrating the end of the darkest days of the year and the beginning of a new season of light. Scientists and bible scholars peg the birth of Jesus in the spring or the fall of the year, depending upon which calculation is used. And, one can argue that the commercialism surrounding Christmas has far overshadowed the religious connotations of the season.
Maybe, losing the luster of Christmas on December 25th isn’t such a bad thing. I think about it this way: The time of Advent, of prayerfully waiting for the coming of God into our lives is over. Today – and every day – is the time to celebrate the birth of God within each of us. God can be found in our own hearts and souls. In fact, God was never lost and in need of being found. We were never lost and in need of being found by God.
God is with us now – and always has been
God is calling us now – and always has been
God is guiding us now – and always has been
Advent is over. Christmas has arrived. God is born anew within each of us today and every day. In that respect, every day is Christmas.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.