In the midst of our celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, buying Christmas gifts while they’re on sale, and decorating our houses for the season ahead, we get caught up in a lot of days in a row that feel “extra.” I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take a long few weeks to celebrate the birth of Jesus, or that we shouldn’t let ourselves get swept up in the celebrations that the end of the calendar year can bring. What I am saying, or rather, asking, is that when New Year’s has come and gone, will we be satisfied with what’s left? What even is left? Our ordinary.
In Emily P. Freeman’s lovely book Simply Tuesday, she invites the reader to find a way to look at the ordinary and even mundane moments so that we may appreciate their smallness. Smallness, she says, is often where we grow closer to Christ. We don’t particularly like the smallness, the ordinary, or the (gasp!) boring, but we do need a nudge to look for God in whatever is right in front of us, however unsightly or messy it may be.
As we navigate the busy and glorious season of Advent, our hearts are naturally more attuned to the Kingdom-looking parts of our lives. You know, the familial relationships that are healthy, the beauty in icicles and snowflakes, and the snuggles as our children are drifting off to sleep, cozied up beside us. But the challenge comes later, when the twinkling lights and tinsel have been packed away, the sugary dreams have worn off, and we’ve lost a few pieces to most of our gifts that we so carefully chosen, wrapped, and placed under the tree. What happens when the magic is gone? Do we just fabricate it?
I don’t think the magic goes anywhere. It just looks a little different. In “ordinary time” – which by the way, is an actual part of the church’s liturgical year when feasts and celebrations aren’t happening – excitement might be a little more difficult to find, but it isn’t gone. Sometimes, it takes actually resting, looking, and waiting. Hang on to this glimpse of forever we get, while things are naturally beautiful and kindness abounds. Hold on to the feeling of love and warmth you get in a room full of your people, toasting their eggnog and hugging. When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, he reminds them (and us) that the things of this of this world, things we can see – Christmas trees, fireworks, finely wrapped gifts – are temporary. The things that are unseen – faith, hope, and love – those are eternal. So, we fix our eyes on the unseen things, the forever things, and we put our hope in the One who made everything worth celebrating.