I am the pastor of a small church in town. You might not know this because this space (lovewithacapitall.com) has been a separate room where I can talk about Morrissey (mostly) and other art and artists I like. At least as separate as I can be. The things we discuss here, we also discuss there – After all, I do write it, and the best, most authentic art comes from the most authentic parts of us. If I were to pretend I didn’t love Morrissey songs and Fight Club and superheroes, that would be to abandon certain important, meaningful parts of me. How can we connect on any sort of deep level while one of us is hiding or holding parts of him/her-self back and pretending to be something else,something we think the other wants us to be? Dishonesty and image making drive me insane. So, there (in the church virtual room), these cultural touchpoints relate explicitly to God and the complicated journey of faith. Here, not necessarily as explicitly, but they do relate.
Anyway, this particular faith community began in my living room, when the church to which I belonged closed its doors. That means I speak every Sunday, and each talk should probably contain one point the people who give their most valuable possession, their time, can use, just in case they don’t hear anything else. It’s shocking, but the truth is that not everyone present is hanging on each word I say. Gasp! On Saturday night, Christmas Eve, this ‘takeaway’ was that we don’t only celebrate Christmas once a year, but that we live Christmas lives.
What does that mean? What does a Christmas life look like? Maybe I should’ve given a bit more thought to that, it sounded like a pretty good phrase at the time, and maybe I did an adequate job at conveying the idea. Often times, we are having conversations in our heads & hearts, and very little has to be said to affect us in profound ways. For instance, let’s say you were feeling that you wanted to learn to play the guitar, then a character in the book you’re reading is a guitar player, then you’re listening to Howard Stern and he’s interviewing Slash, and then you come to a church service and I happen to be talking about Abraham and Campbell’s Heroes’ Journey and say, “Maybe you’re thinking of taking a new step…” And that’s all it takes. I don’t have to be eloquent or clear at all, it’s enough and your spirit and what I call God will do the rest.
I know a Christmas life doesn’t mean we spend money like wild animals buying things we don’t need and don’t really want in the first place, things we have to return or exchange. It doesn’t mean we buy landscaping and put it inside (though I guess it could mean that for you). It doesn’t mean we gain weight as if we’re preparing to hibernate for months (like I do). It doesn’t mean we make habits of superficial small talk with distant relatives (unless we actually care for them and the talk gets bigger and less superficial.)
It’s always easier to define what we are not, or who we don’t want to be, or what we don’t want to do, than it is to say Yes. But negative postures don’t change our lives. Wanting to not become my dad never got me closer to who I wanted to become, to who Chad was once the block of stone had been chipped away. What would it reveal? I wouldn’t be a groundhog or 10 million other things, but what would I be underneath it all? That’s the coolest thing about opening your eyes, what you’ll see.
So, here’s what I came up with. A Christmas life is one of imagination. It takes a very open mind that dreams to consider a story of a God coming as a baby to a 13 year old girl in a barn, and what it could all mean. It takes imagination to hope for something new, for a fresh word. A Christmas life hopes. We hope for more than we see, that I can be more, that you can be more, that it isn’t what it is, that we’re not simply what we’ve always been, that we can change our world. A Christmas life is relational. We ask, listen, think the best, hold each other, kiss, put our phones down and pay attention to the fantastic blessings in front of us. We have more friends than “friends.” Mostly a Christmas life loves. We love our people, our animals, our neighborhoods, our country, our planet. But we do not love these things at the expense of other neighborhoods, countries, or planets. We love those, too. We are awake and aware, looking for people to love and ways to love them that they understand and receive. A Christmas life does not miss sacred moments, and a Christmas life realizes that they are all sacred moments if we are intentionally present.
I wonder if all of that came across in my message. Who knows? I wonder if all of that comes across in my life. I think, to that thought, what a Christmas life would say is, “if it didn’t yesterday, it sure will today.”
(One more thing. You know, I know almost nothing about promotion or reaching more eyes for this blog. And what I do know, I shy away from, for several reasons. But it’s going to be a new year. Promotion doesn’t have to be to feed my ego and/or brag about numbers, it could totally be about connection and circles that overlap.So, I would love to know you’re there, so maybe we could dream together and talk about what A Christmas Life means to you, and maybe we could do what we can to usher in a new world. Just a thought.)