I’ve been reading posts about Advent and wondering how to think about Christmas. I so dislike that little phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season.” If I am completely honest, I would not like Christmas nearly so much if there were not presents and trees, lights and decorations. Although I don’t like the relentless consumerism and marketing of the holidays, I really like many of the secular aspects of Christmas.
I’m not quite sure how to extract Christ from the sentimentalized narrative of events that I’m not sure even happened. Where I work, the thinking is that if the Virgin birth is not true, then Christianity falls apart. I don't know why. The story of a virgin birth really seems like something patched on later to explain how this man could be completely human and divine at the same time. But it’s a beautiful image – the soul of the world waiting for the divine to enter as one of its own, God binding himself in human flesh out of love for his creation, giving himself to his creation. Despite my prevarication, I don’t really feel hypocritical reciting the creed about Jesus being born of a virgin and that he died and rose again. I think so many things are true that aren’t literally true. Good fiction is true. Good poetry is true. And yet there may not be a single actual event in either. They transcend the literal and ascend to a world of – what? – archetypes? Platonic forms? The Christmas story is beautiful. It’s poetry, it may be fiction, it is a vision of what the world could be if we truly followed the law of love, it speaks of our greatest hope that humanity is good, because Jesus was a man and was good, because he championed the outcasts and afflicted, and we ourselves can nurture that goodness.
Dear Husband is frustrated at my lack of passion for Christ, as he puts it. He considers my sense of not fitting in to be of my own making. I do find it very difficult to engage. He loves our new pastor. I find his messages simplistic. Dear Husband thinks I'm antisocial. It's not that I don't think there are other people like me - I just don't think they're at our church. And, yes, I have my guard up based on what I hear people express. My husband fits comfortably into orthodoxy. He doesn't take issue with anything. When I hear our pastor say that doubt must be met with faith, I feel frustrated. It's like saying that hunger must be met with food, and yet the tables are bare. Dear Husband says I didn't really listen. Oh, but I did. I listened, hoping I would hear something startling. I am always hoping I will hear something that will touch me, stir me, invigorate me.
And that is why I am about to turn once again to a more formal style of worship. This next weekend I plan to visit an Episcopal church. I don't necessarily think that I feel completely comfortable there. I have so little experience with this style of worship. I've been to Episcopal/Anglican churches that were sadly out of touch. But I want to experience a little quiet veneration, a different rhythm, the Eucharist as a rite, ritual prayer. Dear Husband is beginning to think I'm a nonbeliever. In many people's opinion, I would be. Not in my own. I just feel tired.