Okay I admit it.
I am a Christmas Grinch.
It just seems to me that Christmas is a Time when everyone else feels the need to run my life for me. Retailers tell me what I should buy. My family plans my schedule and what I am to buy from them, with apparently no regard for the time and money I am being asked to invest in this. A simple trip to the grocery store becomes a complex operation, and no longer a simple errand. Even if I manage to pull off the supernatural feat of finding a parking space, then I need to negotiate the hordes of angry shoppers as I attempt to find and purchase these items which I am told I must buy, all while endeavouring to keep my children safe and relatively calm.
There. I said it.
This year I thought I would write a short reflection on what Christmas means (or at least should mean) to me, in an effort to move beyond those things I hate about the Christmas season to focus on the beauty of Christmas message.
Before Santa and Rudolph there was Jesus, the Jewish Galilean peasant who turned the world upside down with his revolutionary teachings. This year I am determined to take this time to reflect upon the positive message of Jesus’ Birth.
The Gospel accounts describe Jesus’s birth as a new Exodus. In the Exodus story the people of Israel are liberated from their oppressor, Pharaoh, to live a new life in the beautiful abundant land of Canaan.
A spacious land, the heartbeat of which is the Sabbath rhythm of work and rest.
A land the drinks rain from the heavens, and sports amazing fresh produce.
By depicting Jesus’s birth as a new Exodus, the Gospel writers portray Jesus’ birth as liberation from the forces of oppression, heralding a new age of peace and abundance. For me, my Egypt appears to be an obsession I get with tasks I have decided need to be done. This obsession becomes my slave master, stopping me from engaging with others around me, or in other activities until that task is completed.
Now, that is life in Egypt.
Life in Canaan, on the other hand, is never fixated on any given task, but rather enjoys and engages in every single moment.
Life in Canaan is able to tolerate the unfinished task, knowing that Canaan is an abundant and fruitful land that drinks rain from heavens, and will always provide for our needs even if a particular task (even one which seems soooo important) remains unfinished.
Life in Canaan dances to the Sabbath rhythm of work, rest, and play, so much so, that the crucial peace and refreshment which we draw from rest and play are carried over into our work, making even our “work” fun and enjoyable.
Life in Canaan is true spiritual life, which leaves behind the harsh task masters of Egypt to enjoy full communion with the Divine.
So, this Christmas I want to give thanks for the taste of Canaan which have already experienced, and the birth of Jesus who made it all possible, while looking forward expectantly to greater experiences of Canaan in 2017. By doing so, I hope to rediscover Christmas as a celebration of liberty, and slay my inner Grinch.