Simple? Christmas?

Devin began a new series this week at Gracepoint. Christmas: Simple. The guys on our set up crew were cracking the inevitable jokes about our set. Things like, "If this is simple, I don't wanna be around for over the top." And my personal favorite, "Wow! Those are the coolest decorations EVER!" (Said in a dorky little kid's voice by a thirty-something guy on the team)

The preparation of our worship space for Christmas: Simple seems anything but. It highlights, for me, however, that simple does NOT mean easy. It is easy to say that we are going to keep Christmas simple, but how easy is this to really do? J and I are pretty committed to keeping things low-key, but we are still shopping, and wrapping, and baking (well, I am). We are still crafting, and shipping, and stressing. Throw in a two thousand, eight-hundred mile trip and we have recipe for Christmas-Simple-You-Have-Got-to-be Kidding.

And yet,the list of things we are not doing is equally as long. We are not searching all over, waiting in line, knocking down old ladies to get a TMX Elmo (even if it would forever seal my fate as THE COOLEST AUNT IN THE WORLD). We are not wracking our brains for the perfect gift to our parents. Last year we began making donations in our parents' honor, and this is as much fun as shopping-- choosing the right organization for each set of parents, finding a group we feel would fit their hearts. We are not putting up a tree (though I had a hard time letting go of this one, believe me).

Going through my list of expectations for the advent and Christmas season, I really was forced to examine why I need to bake twenty different kinds of cookies, add a Christmas card to someones pile on their coffee table, or stress myself to the point that I become some strange Kelly-like Grinch character. I realised that I don't have to do any of those things. I don't have to carry every tradition from my childhood and Jon's. We are a new family, and we can make our own traditions. Right now, our focus is serving together. Instead of decorating a tree at home, we took time to construct a five-foot GP wreath. Together. We spent several hours cutting, assembling, and wiring. Together. And because this was replacing the tree decorations, we were able to enjoy without wondering where we were going to find the time for ONE MORE THING.

Devin told us that Christmas is and was simply God coming to save us. That's it, nothing more. I wonder why we have such a hard time accepting this in its simplicity. Is it because, if we make it some huge complicated holiday with lots of bells and whistles we can distract ourselves from the uncomfortable idea? I mean really, it is so simple-- God became man in Christ so that we might live. Perhaps it is that we know what is coming on the Cross, and we would rather think about silver bells and holly and joy than nails and wood and suffering.

Stripping away all the frills, and getting down to the heart of the matter is no easy task. Simple is not easy by any means. But only in the true simplicity can we find Christ. Because he is not in the pretty paper and the hot cider. He is found in a feed trough. Pure and simple.


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