You know how some years you just don’t get around to doing any decorating of your own home because you’re too wrapped up (pun intended) with holiday season busyness at church and in your community?
I did that last year, and it was fine. For me, it’s fine to do that sometimes if I think about my own needs and priorities (and I don’t have children, so I can do that).
But this year, I need Advent. I need it very much. I pray for God to dwell among us in a way that we can feel and access in our responses to living in a broken world. I need the journey to Bethlehem. Dear God, I need angels smashing through the wall saying, “HEY. DON’T FREAK OUT BUT GOD IS GOING TO DO THIS HUGE THING, ARE YOU UP FOR IT?” I need a nobody little girl from an oppressed community to say, “Yes, as a matter of fact I am, and let me spontaneously bring forth an astonishing statement about what God is doing here, let me sing it, let me lay it down.”
I need lights and angels and creche sets around the house and I need to pad down to my kitchen every morning like a little kid and open the Advent calendar for the day and squeal at what’s behind the flap of paper.
Some years, like a succulent, I can draw moisture for a dry season out of the ground upon which I stand with my people. This year, though, I need to fling a lot of tinsel around, light the smelly candles, wrap the bannisters in garland. I need to get a party going for the Christ child. Can’t skip it this year.
So in the spirit of “Physician, heal thyself,” I am saying, “Minister, deck thy halls first.”
If you need to.
But now would be a good time to stop and ask yourself if you need to and not look up on December 26th and feel a sad pang that you did all that to make Christmas deep and beautiful for your community but left your own home barren of effort.