Our heart says no, but we lose the argument to so many other voices. Voices that instill insecurity, Â guilt, convincing arguments to otherwise fill our days with impossibles lists of merry-making. As if that were the key to a merry heart.
To compound the power of the voices in and around us, we like to keep busy. We like the self important feel of harried efforts to meet every expectation and create every fun-filled moment, to infuse each day with meaningful memories.
We like it that way, and that is the most convincing argument of all. Â And theÂ hearts’ small protest is buried under the cover of the Great To-Do List. Our shopping, baking, cleaning, wrapping, decorating, sending cards, attending events, Christmas tree, outdoor lighting, singing and feasting lists. The Great To-Do.
[box type=”shadow”]The Element of Christmas: The Stable[/box]
But all our beloved traditions and best efforts are really simple orbits of our own making around a center of Love. The very center of Love, which is neither comparable nor given to any other substitution.
If we only realized and accepted this central point of greatest simplicity, the love of God, as the irreplaceable treasure that it is, we would avoid the disappointment, the emptiness, and the sour taste that so often accompanies the surfeit of our holiday bustle.
Wassailing, Not Railing
Wassail isÂ an English custom of questionable Christian origin. In fact, it is almost unquestionably rooted in Pagan ceremonies. Yet, the ancient desires of human beings echoing through the songs and wishes for well-being and abundance find answer in the Christmas story.
Instead of railing against the “materialism” of holiday merchandising or hedonistic entertainment, why not join in the wish for good health and wholeness for each other?
Didn’t Christ come for just such purpose? To restore us to life, an abundant, spiritually vibrant, love-filled life.
I always liked the cheerfulness of the wassailing songs, the going from house to house while caroling was a wonderful tradition during my youth. The connection threads from caroling, back to “wassailing”, and the corporate well wishing that survives to today. Yes, its connection with charitable giving has been subsumed in the hustle we now know as “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings”. But with a little effort we can pry out the joy that comes from thinking good thoughts, having good will towards our fellow man, and to God.
Thinking of others, focusing on what we may give, and not what we will get, remains the best antidote to theÂ consuming interest in oneself and our complaints.
It remains the true source of a joyful, merry heart.
Giving could add to the hustle and bustle or it could lead us to following a path of greater peace, thinking less about ourselves andÂ more about attending to the needs of others.
Many of our favorite holiday anecdotes and illustrations make much of the miraculous way in which giving to others somehow fills our own cup.
How will we answer the heart this year?
What ways will we give, not of our excess, but of our essence?
It is hard to choose simplicity and sincerity when surrounded by the clamor of loud and flashy “gifting”. When comparisons with other’s perfect celebrations seem to arise on every side, reproving our own best efforts as somehow “not enough”, we can choose the preparation of theÂ heart.
The stable is where we choose to go to see the Christ, in the place where he came to serve mankind. He did not come to be served, but there we come to worship and adore him. In a simple, unadorned place, a place that we now make inside our hearts, bare of all except our great need of him and thankfulness for his coming.
There is where the rejoicing starts… in this feast of our hearts.
O Come, Let Us Adore Him
Here We Come A Wassailing
Do you go caroling?
Is it difficult for your family to pare down the “to do list”?
Why is it hard to keep the holiday without the hassle… and what is your definition of “hassle” in this case?
Reading From The Scripture:
â€œBut you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.â€