Each week we feature one reflection selected from the Daily Sip, a ministry of St John’s Cathedral, Denver, CO
by Charles LaFond
So what do we do now? The culture in which we live is packing up Christmas into boxes already. Stores slash prices on Christmas nic-nacs and many turn to the YMCA now as they wonder how their clothes became so miraculously tight in the past month. We drag out the boxes and the tissue paper for re-packing so many sparkly things, or at least eye them.
But what if this is not over? What if this Christmas thing is just getting started?
I marvel at the enthusiasm of people in church to embrace Lent! They moan and groan, wear ashes and make vows to not eat this and not do that. It’s like a kind of collective slouch, in which we spend forty days dragging ourselves around with frowny faces (some painted on with no small glee) as if the most important part of the Christian story is our sin. And why not? It’s what the church has been busy manufacturing for centuries in small, dark, dank, sexually-repressed corners of monasteries and churches.
Complex liturgies for sin acknowledgment. Long prayers of “Oh, I am so, so, so, very bad.” When in fact, we’re not that important. What if God is not paying as much attention to our sins as we think? What if God is paying attention to peace and joy?
Funny that we spend 40 days in Lent but only 12 days in Christmas.
So I guess, today I wonder, after such a busy few weeks of parties and shopping, eating and opening – I wonder what difference this Christmas event might make for you and for me? In other words, when you look at this child who comes to link us to a God doing everything possible to connect to us – even though He is pathologically shy and vulnerable – hiding behind fire, pillars of smoke and within clefts of rock – what do we do with this baby, this manger and this shy God in whose relationship we are cosmically stuck?
Well, what is the point? I guess we could start there. What is the point of Christmas? What is the point of the baby, the star and the holy family?
The point is love. The point is that a God, who can craft a praying mantis with yellow skin and purple dots – a God who can make an ocean full of wildlife, a jungle, an arctic, chocolate, light, orgasms, and post-it notes is a God of creativity. A God who can make people in the diversity of India and Holland, of China and Manhattan, of Pacific Islanders and England is a God of creativity. A God who can make all we see – crab cakes, chocolate cream, Hollandaise Sauce, tallegio cheese – a God who can make the hundreds of emotions and faces which show them is a God of creativity.
A God who can be that creative deserves a creative, thoughtful response to incarnation – something rather more robust and physical, more tactile than “Wow, incarnation! Well done!”
God not only creates a beautiful world and people to enjoy it, God gets creative about how to connect to us while remaining un-knowable and un-nameable. So how shall we respond to the incarnation?
What if the “Lenten Disciplines” – which will inevitably come soon enough- were held off to their proper place in late winter, and we each consider what our Christmas disciplines are? What if our Christmas disciplines are themed around creativity and ingenuity with every bit as much fervor as we will inevitably give to coming up with self-disciplining ideas for Lent. And then, what if we lived out our creative disciplines for a few weeks so that we may honor God’s making of Himself as baby – God’s making of relationship with the world… by making something.
Take a writing class. Buy a glue gun. Make a pot in a pottery studio. Make a new recipe. Write a poem – it’s just a collection of words. You can do it. Make a Christmas ornament for next year’s tree. Make a necklace or a greeting card or new stationary or a quilt. Make a new friendship – find it, craft it, make it a new reality. Go to a craft supply store like Micheal’s and wander the isles until you find something speak to you. Or find a helpful attendant and ask for their advice – “I like this and that…what could I make?”
I guess all I am saying is that if God can create a way to connect with a people who have, for millennia, been rather uncooperative, then we can dig deep and meet that with equal creativity – equal generativity.
When I was a monk, we all took the week off after Christmas. As monks we did not generate – did not give birth, did not marry and co-create with a woman or a man. We lived in a cloistered monastery. We did not make families. So, to be able to let out the natural creativity in each of us – the natural generatively inside us by virtue of having been made in God’s image – the image of a CREATOR… we created. Each of us chose a task – something to create, and between the many monastic offices of the day and night, we huddled away and created something new. Then, at the end of the week, after Christmas we showed each other what we had made and bought Indian take-out (Because Brother Paul loved it !) It was wonderful.
What if you and I met the incarnation with a real, tangible act of creativity to honor God’s?