I love Christmas in Collierville. As a community we will soon gather at the Town Square waiting for the lighting of the Christmas tree, the arrival of Santa and for the Square to take on an aspect of enchantment. Then at St. Patrick, where I pastor, we will invite the whole Town to come on our property for a huge party of food trucks, and offer parking for the Town Christmas Parade.
Our sanctuary will also signal something different —something extravagant, the beginning of Advent! The celebration of God taking on flesh and blood and entering time and space. Our whole building will be festooned and gilded — festive. What is this? Why the lights, candles, and special genre of music? For about a month Christians and non-Christians alike will go to parties, burn the Yule Log, drink rivers of eggnog and give gifts to one another. For some, it will be a distraction from the mundane drudgery of everyday life — a welcome relief. For others, it will be a time to remember.
“Like Jesus, take in the broken, the weak, the sick, and the sore and remind them by our own love and care that all is not dark, there is hope!” – Rev. James M. Holland
For most of us, it will be a time of giving. Why? Because at the center of this season is the ultimate act of giving. The infinite became finite, the large became small, the strong became weak, the powerful became vulnerable — God took on flesh and blood! What does this say to us who remember? To us who ponder the ultimate act of self-giving?
The real answer is to say, “Wake up!” To us in the comforts of suburbia, it is to remember Jesus came not to the rich but to the poor. Jesus used his power not to make himself great, but to make others great. Jesus’ ministry was one of inviting in the sick, lame and broken. Jesus’ life and death was about reconciliation, not alienation.
So, what does this season mean for us in Collierville? The same thing it meant for Scrooge: that real life and human thriving is life laid down — self giving. It means that our gifts, resources, money and time are used to bring restoration and life to those who wonder why they do not have a seat at our tables. This month of celebration is to knock us in the head and tell us to “get busy” being people who, like Jesus, take in the broken, the weak, the sick, and the sore and remind them by our own love and care that all is not dark, there is hope!
Rev. James M. Holland, Senior Minister
St. Patrick Presbyterian Church