by the Rev. Willie Israel
Living the Season
Beginning with our traditional Thanksgiving feast, the days make a headlong dash toward Christmas. These days are filled with parties, shopping, decorating, wrapping, and traveling. The hope and anticipation that Christians associate with Advent is easily lost amid the busyness, stress, and deadlines of holiday preparation.
The marketing industry has made a sophisticated art of telling us what we have to do, and how much we have to spend, in order to have a successful, meaningful Christmas. In a 60 second commercial, we are likely to be treated to images of beautiful happy children in bright snuggly sweaters, snow-laden trees, and revelers who seem to have stepped off the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.
We hear the sounds of jingle bells, church chimes, and carols; and we smell balsam, cinnamon or peppermint in every store we enter. This sensory banquet is supposed to get us in the "Christmas Spirit."
I urge you, this Christmas to step back from the hectic rush of the obligations imposed on you by our culture. As you pray, remember to rejoice in the hope that we have in Christ's reign on earth, and then live in that hope.
Smile at a stranger. Sing with a friend. Give gifts without expecting recognition or return. Call someone who is lonely. Offer random and unexpected kindness. Forgive someone. Laugh. Play.
If you get in the habit of living in the Kingdom during the Advent-Christmas season, you will find when the New Year comes, that you don't want to leave.