Another Look: Why Do We Love This Season?
Why do we love this season?
I would suggest that aesthetics have much to do with the answer to that question. The lead-up to Christmas and its celebration is made sensible to us by means of the things we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch at this time of year.
Spiritual truth comes out of the closet of the abstract and makes itself real to us through our bodily, sensory experiences during the holidays.
God in heaven becomes incarnate in Bethlehem. Word becomes flesh.
We shiver at the chill. We grow warm by the fire.
We smell the pungent dung of the stable. And fragrant bows from the pine.
The song of the angels fills our ears. And the voices of children.
Our gaze is transfixed upon a newborn Baby.
We relish the special feasts we share with one another, as the Baby suckles his Mother’s breast.
Gifts are exchanged, hand to hand, paper ripped open and flung aside amid squeals of delight and smiles, tears, hugs, acknowledged later with handwritten thank-you notes.
It is not simply the Christmas “spirit” but the lived experiences of Christmas that we treasure.
All of our traditions and practices, the idiosyncratic celebrations of our families, and the special events in our churches, schools and communities take place in space and time in the lives of boys and girls and men and women of flesh and blood. We hold up our candles in the darkness and await the moment when “the dawn from on high will break upon us.”
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
Hear this marvelous testimony from Eric Gill. Don’t get sidetracked and focus only on the specific path he chose (Catholicism), but hear the larger message he brings:
I became a Catholic because I fell in love with the truth. And love is an experience. I saw. I heard. I felt. I tasted. I touched. And that is what lovers do.
Oh, that we, in all our faith traditions, might learn this. There is no “spiritual” faith. What God has given us is bodies, by which we receive his gifts. The path leads from the outside in, and not vice versa. To reach our hearts, he took on flesh.
We instinctively know this in the season around Christmas.
My prayer is that we will know it in all the gracious seasons of life.
7 thoughts on “Another Look: Why Do We Love This Season?”
+1. I couldn’t have said it any better, JB.
The idea behind the Catholic idea of “Sacramentals”; physical objects/experiences which express spiritual things.
Yet a lot of the Evangelical Bubble has focused so much on the Spiritual(TM) that they cease to be human, like a Pneumatic Gnostic or Silicon Valley Zillionaire “uploading their consciousness” into The Cloud. In all these examples, the things “we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch”? “It’s All Gonna Burn”.
” . . . the light shines in darkness; and the darkness overcame it not” (from the Holy Gospel of St. John 1:5)
What I always liked about Christmas is that is the one time in the year in which even the most iconoclastic Baptists honor our Lady and put little statues of her in their houses or on their lawns,
Everybody gets a little more catholic at Christmastime
The light in the darkness. That’s what I love about the season. And that light can be a candle in a window, or the glow of Christmas ornaments, or the smile on the face of a child, or the twinkle of a star low in the east, or just the barest flicker of an ember in a heart grown cold. Hope. Darkness must have its season, and that is right, but not the whole story.
“To reach our hearts, He took on flesh.
We instinctively know this in the season around Christmas. . . ”
“But God is our King before ages: He hath wrought Salvation in the midst of the earth. ”
SALVATION IS CREATED, IN THE MIDST OF THE EARTH,
O GOD, O OUR GOD.
A choir from a Baptist university sings a Russian Orthodox hymn from a Hebrew Psalm of sacred Scripture foretelling the coming of Christ ‘in the midst of the Earth’. . . . . such is the Christmas experience celebrated within the Body of Christ in our time and in our land
CM, so well stated and relatable . Just a great , wonderful message that conveys the essence of Christmas. I will consider this my Christmas gift. God Bless and thanks for sharing this.