Thursday, November 05, 2009
I was not brought up at all religious. My only experiences with church were at my cousins' major Catholic services, but I never was taught about them, so I just felt weird at them mostly. I didn't even know the Lord's prayer, and when it was recited in church, I just felt awkward.
Since then, I've come to a strong faith that makes me want to try to live as best I can, using the lessons from Jesus as my guide. I've participated in bible studies, attend church regularly, and developed my own Spiritual take on Easter and the other Christian holidays, rather than the fundamentalist perspective I'd heard about, or just a secular view of family get-togethers and eating lots of food.
But I only recently started to learn about Advent, and to try to make it as meaningful a time as Christmas Day. Hope Church has some wonderful resources (for Lent too, btw), and we have some advent calendars But really...more than just observing Advent, I feel called to make Christmas more about Jesus's birth and life than about all the other (albeit it lovely) "stuff". OK, not all of it is lovely. Christmas can be a very stressful time for a lot of people because of the misguided importance we put on presents and other "things".
This is where websites like Advent Conspiracy and its sister site Rethinking Christmas might be useful to folks who want to simplify their Christmas so they can spend more time and energy really connecting with family, and giving thanks for Jesus.
I for one have been trying to do this for many years. Its just too easy to fall prey to the worries about "the perfect Christmas" (think Norman Rockwell), and giving the perfect gifts - especially if you are on the receiving end of incredibly generous Christmas gifts. But I think perhaps the key isn't so much in working to make the Christmas season NOT be something, but putting so much time and attention into the things it should be about, there just won't be as much time to worry about those other things. And in trying to simplify our lives, we can "live simply so that others may simply live", something Jesus would certainly approve of.