Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

“Jesus is coming! Look busy!”

Years ago, when I was the pastor of a small church, I wore a button reading, “Jesus is coming — look busy” all during the Advent season. The congregation loved it, since in a small church, everyone truly is especially busy during Advent. In addition to their own family’s Christmas preparations, they were doing the Christmas pageant, the angel tree, the volunteer appreciation dinner, the extra choir rehearsals for those glorious, gut-busting anthems, and the endless potlucks. During Advent, the Christian community is temporarily widened to include anyone with a 9″ x 12″ baking pan or a Jell-o mold.

Look busy… doing what?

But I also wore my button ironically, because I wondered whether all these kindly-meant activities were really the best way to get ready for the birth of this Jesus we’ve been wondering about for two thousand years now.

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Truth beyond facts

My way into the Christian community was the second way. My faith and experience assure me that words are more than mere definitions; that facts do not equal truth. The nativity story may not be a factual story, but it is a truthful one. Humans have been inspired to craft and cherish this story as a vessel full of truth about how humanity may become the incarnation of the divine: first in Mary and then in Jesus. It serves as a hyperlink to the real story.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Do not give the minister, the retail clerk, the postal worker, or the police officers a hard time during Advent.

If you do, the Rev Dr Sparky is certain that you will go straight to hell.

And I don’t even believe in hell.

We don’t have to be Christians to sense the beauty of this season, or to honor the idea that even the most poor and obscure newborn may one day bring light to the world. And our small attempts to give gifts, to feed the hungry, to please those we love, to be reconciled and renewed — these are not small after all. They are like pinholes in the dark canopy that stands between us and that great light, letting tiny bits of brilliance shine through from that terrible beyond.

Preaching courage in the face of absurdity. Editor of Real Life, Real/igion — join us for the newsletter Real/igion for the Rest of Us.

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