By The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The days before Christmas begin in deep darkness, occasionally relieved by streaks of rose and purple in the eastern sky. Even on the darkest mornings, we wait in hope for those slim rays of light and their promise of more.
What does that promise of more actually mean? Women’s investment in Christmas in this culture often increases their workloads. The expectations of our families and friends – like a “perfect Christmas” or at least one better than last year – are intimately tied to how we respond in this season. Those expectations are often unreasonable and impossible. Part of growing into emotional and spiritual maturity includes letting go of those impossible expectations. We cannot “fix” the world for the people around us. What we can do is offer the best of what we know and the best of what is within us – and that is usually less about what we do than who we are.
How might you spend more time with family and friends this Christmas, rather than spend more money on gifts? How might you engage your loved ones in conversation, games, singing, or just sitting around and being together? The memories that come from that kind of spending are far more valuable than any purchased gift – and they last a lifetime.
We wait for the birth of a poor baby at Christmas, not a bag of gifts. Babies come only after months of waiting – productive and life-giving waiting. That productive waiting isn’t just “waiting on” demanding kids or others – it’s dreaming and hoping and being, rather than doing. How might you “wait with” your loved ones this year?
We wait for a poor child who blessed the world with the immeasurable wealth of relationship with the holy. How will you share your understanding of holiness with your loved ones this year?
Search for those signs of dawn in the eastern sky – you can’t hurry their appearance any more than the arrival of this child. Wait in hope, and gather others with you to dream about what this child represents – a healed and whole and holy world. Invite your loved ones to join you in that prayer, and then consider how you might help to heal one small wound in this world. That’s the more of Christmas, the greater light that dawns in this birth.
A blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones.
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the twenty-sixth Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. She is chief pastor and primate to The Episcopal Church's members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses, and joins with other principal bishops of the 38 member provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion, seeking to make common cause for global good and reconciliation.