By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle
How many take advantage of ‘Black Friday’ shopping? How many shop on ‘Cyber Monday’? How much effort and money will be spent in the lead up to Christmas seeking to buy gifts for family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and more? To what extent does society tell us that we are obligated to buy, buy, buy this season as a sign of our love and care for others?
Being honest for a moment: what do we remember about the gifts we gave and received last year? To what extent were all the efforts to buy, buy, buy memorable? What still stands out for us? What about over the course of our lifetime, what gifts given or received remain? What does it say that these may only be a small handful of memories?
Admittedly, for myself, perhaps the most memorable Christmas from my childhood is the year we received a play kitchen that had been specially built for my sister and me. We also received a pair of Green Giant hand chairs that were part of the playroom for years.
As an adult, I learned that that Christmas was filled with angst for my parents. My dad had recently lost his job. Family and friends stepped in to help them provide a meaningful celebration for their four young children. The kitchen set was built from scrap wood with the help of my uncle. The chairs were free thanks to codes collected from Green Giant vegetables. There were presents obtained thanks to family and friends donating N&D stamps. The thoughtfulness of a community surrounding our family during a difficult time makes these memories far more resilient decades later.
All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ (Mt 1:22-23)
Our Advent journey and Christmas celebrations are rooted in the story of our faith. The practices in which we engage are meant to reflect our belief that God came and dwelt among us as a child born in humble circumstances. How we choose to embody that belief says something about the meaning we attach to this moment.
What choices will we make this year? How will these choices honour Jesus? What might we do differently to keep our focus on the reason for the season? How might our efforts proclaim good will to all in transformative ways?
The Advent Conspiracy movement (see https://adventconspiracy.org/) suggests we reflect on our relationship to Advent and Christmas and consider how we might:
“It’s our turn to love as we have been loved.”
How will we tell the story this Advent and Christmas? How will we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us in ways that offer hope, peace, joy, and love for all people and Creation? What commitments will we each make to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all this year?
May God bless our choices.
Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is a tri-chair of SEJH and a tri-chair of Justice League of Huron.