Christmas feels different when you’re grown up. I see this with my own children. Gone are the days when they would get excited over decorating the tree with pipe cleaner candy canes and angels created from dry pasta noodles. I fully relied on my older two to help share the cheer with Rachel and Janneke. They would watch their older sisters craft, sing and dance their way into the holidays.
A different sort of Christmastime
Now we are in a quieter time. The music is more likely to come from Spotify or the radio – and not from singing voices setting up the Playmobil manger scene. There are homemade gifts and helping hands with decorating, but it’s less animated and more reflective. Rachel and Janneke are now taking their cues from Disney+ and their mom’s attempts at crafts. Moving into and through adulthood as a family, this time brings nostalgia and cheer – but also memories of disappointment and discouragement.
As we all prepare to close the curtains on 2021, it’s not with the same speedy farewell that we gave 2020. But was 2021 the bounce-back year we had hoped for? I wonder how you’d answer that. It feels like it was the year of questions, especially as we watched our families and communities deal with Covid19 fatigue. Some of the questions asked this year have led to rifts in faith communities and among friends. I feel as if we are coming to our winter feasts worn out and weary. Christina Rossetti’s familiar poem opens with similar sentiments:
In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan Earth stood hard as iron Water like a stone Snow had fallen Snow on snow on snow
What can I give him, worn out as I am?
I’ve been appreciating the writing of WJ deKock in his book Out of My Mind: Following the Trajectory of God’s Regenerative Story. Growing up in South Africa, he learned the incredible value of reflection and questions: “Asking questions, as I came to understand, does not mark the end of faith, it signals the intention to seek meaning.”
Did the people “wandering in darkness” ever stop asking when deliverance would come? What kind of questions did Mary store in her heart? How did Simeon and Anna find meaning in waiting their entire lives for a glimpse of Immanuel?
A close friend recently shared some complicated feelings related to the deconstructing of their faith. The experience was so unsettling, as their questions were outnumbering the answers. What they held near and dear for so long was crumbling quickly in light of the questions being asked. How does one find meaning in that mess?
Comfort, comfort, ye my people
I wonder if there’s something restored when we flip the concept of deconstruction to the idea of regeneration. Pulling apart all the traditions and presuppositions, maybe we get to start again with nothing but an open heart, as reserved or skeptical as it may be. Perhaps we are then gifted with a new way to see Christ.
Happy Christmas. Behold, our Creator is making all things new.
I believe deliverance begins with questions….When we’re exposed to the liveliness of holding everything up to the light of good questions – what I call sacred questioning – we discover that redemption is creeping into the way we think, believe, and see the world. David Dark, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything
Those who wait
Looking for a read-and-study for your church fellowship? Tanya Marlow lives with chronic illness and disability – and ministers beautifully through her writing: Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay.
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