Christmas is only a few days away and we are looking out on a snow covered Seattle waiting for what could be one of the worst winter storms for over a decade. In our small community here at the Mustard Seed House we have gathered for morning and evening prayers throughout the Advent season anticipating together the coming of Christ and all that we look forward to at this wonderful season of the year. Our morning prayers started with
This is a season of watchfulness
We watch and wait for the One who heard our cries and entered the suffering of our world
We expect new light to shine as the season of joy approaches
What I realize is that when Christmas arrives, in the excitement of cooking Christmas dinner, opening gifts and phoning my family in Australia, it is easy to forget what this season is really all about. And when Christmas day and Boxing day are over our frenzied activity can easily give way to a low grade depression. But Christmas isn’t really over as those of us who are part of liturgical traditions are well aware. In the sixth century it was decided that celebrating Christmas just for a day didn’t provide time to celebrate the joy that Christ’s birth brought into our world. They made Christmas into a twelve day festival that ended with a feast on the Eve of Epiphany on January 5th to celebrate the coming of the wise men.
This Christmas I am very aware of those for whom there is little celebration. Dustin who lives in the basement apartment at the Mustard Seed House has been very involved with Nickelsville, one of the homeless communities in Seattle and has kept us posted on their plight. Many of the inhabitants have opted to remain in their tents in spite of temperatures well below freezing in the last few days. They are afraid of being mugged or robbed of their few possessions if they move to one of the temporary shelters that have opened up over the Christmas season. We have emptied our closets of woollen garments and have purchased extra food to help them through this difficult season.
In other parts of the world I am aware that the worsening economic crisis has pushed many into poverty or even over the edge into starvation. And I find myself wondering what are ways that I can fully enter into the joyous celebration of Christmas and make it a 12 day feast not just for ourselves but for our poorest and most vulnerable neighbours in God’s worldwide community too?
This beautiful story A Christmas Gift for Mohammed by JR Briggs presents one possibility that brings a sense of God’s joy and celebration into this season. Other possibilities you may like to consider are
- Do you know people that are alone at this season? Take them out for a meal or invite them out for the day. Share with them the reasons that you continue to celebrate the joy of Christmas beyond December 25th
- Do you know people who are disabled? Take them for a drive around your neighbourhood to enjoy the Christmas lights.
- Do you know people of other faiths? Invite them over for a meal. Ask them questions about their own faith journey and then ask them if you can share yours and why this season is important to you.
- Do you have friends, acquaintances or family you rarely speak to? Phone one person each evening during the Christmas season to share your joy at Christ’s birth with them.
- Do you know people who are homeless or living on the streets? If you live in the Northern hemisphere invite them home for a meal and an evening by a warm fire. If you live in the Southern hemisphere invite them out for a BBQ and an afternoon of games and fun.
- Do you know people that work amongst the poor in other parts of the world? Consider cutting your own food budget by half the week after Christmas and send what you save as an extra gift to encourage them during this season.
What are you doing to share your joy of the coming of the Christ child to others at this season?