Friday, December 23, 2011

Thinking Out Loud, Explaining my Absence, & Loving/Hating Christmas

I haven't posted anything here is months. It's not that I'm giving up on the endeavor. It's just that sometimes I hit this point where I wonder if I'm adding anything beneficial to the conversation. I guess that when I think of the American church culture and the manner in which it functions, it can often seem beyond repair. It is a labyrinth of fun house mirrors in which everything has been distorted for so long that no one seems to notice anymore.

This isn't about my lack of faith in Christianity. It's about my constant contemplation as to whether what has manifested itself as organized religion in the USA actually is Christianity. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this question is often one that occupies my mind. That very question was a major catalyst for the creation of this blog. I think the entire problem is magnified by the Christmas season.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. I do certainly love the aesthetic of the season...lights reflecting off of fresh snow, the warm glow of candlelight, lush greenery and ornaments that trace family history. Theologically speaking, the core of this holiday is awe inspiring. I love the concept of reflecting on the idea that divinity can be wrapped within humanity, that out of great darkness a light can come, and that there was a moment when heaven and earth collided. Just stop and think about those things for a minute. Such ideas lead to beautiful quiet and peaceful contemplation indeed. The near futile, but beautiful experience of trying to prepare your heart to hold onto those concepts. It's one of the many reasons that Advent has always been one of my favorite seasons on the church calendar. But I look at everything around me and realize that the manner in which we celebrate does very little to reflect those ideas.

For far too many, this season is one of stress, fatigue, and picking petty fights over minor issues. (I've already told you how I feel about the "War on Christmas.") I hear people around me demanding that we "keep Christ in CHRISTmas," yet I can't help but wonder if he's ever really been part of what we're doing here. Outside of the focus on charity, I see very little of the gospel in the hustle and bustle that is passing me by. I keep searching for that beauty, finding mostly imitation, but I can't stop searching because I know it is here somewhere.

The more I think about what it would truly mean to celebrate the full implications of the Christmas story, the more I realize that we don't. I don't have a way to reconcile this. There is no conclusion to this post. But I would encourage you to withdraw from the chaos, take a moment for quiet contemplation, and consider these awe inspiring theological questions along with me.

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