Merry Christmas, friends!
I am currently sitting around with the family, listening to Beyonce, having just said goodbye to the extended family, waiting in anticipation for my father’s quality cooking. I hope everyone is having a good day with their families, or if they are not, are coping well and have support to get through the holidays. Much love, darlings.
I went to Christmas Eve mass last night, my first in six years. The last one I went to triggered six months of paranoia and panic attacks that God was in fact going to smite me down at any given moment so I tended to avoid it from then on. But 11 months after rejoining the Church, Christmas rolled around again. The Mass was the third Christmas-Church-related thing I went to this week, and also the most different (as a non-Catholic, I don’t generally frequent the Mass.)
Because of translational things, the responses and liturgy of the Mass has changed since my day, so I wasn’t participating to the level that my Catholic friends would, but I still came away with some observations, some about our society, some about the Church, but mainly about myself.
1. Since entering a Bible based evangelical Church, I am now better able to appreciate the Mass. So much of it is prayer (good) and Scripture (great), so my experience of it was one of quite focused and intense prayer, to a level I would struggle to attain at home (I definitely wouldn’t have the discipline to pray for an hour in my room.) As a whole, I found the service spiritually fulfilling, wonderfully festive (I sang along loudly to hymns, as is my way) and overall, lovely.
2. I find myself at a loss in a society of cultural Catholicism. My reading, and learning, and church teachings, all lead to Matthew 22:37 – “He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” – and James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”. So I struggle to understand the point of going to Church twice a year – it’s not Church attendance that saves you after all. It also bugged me how not about Christ this holiday appeared even in the Church, and after stewing in my own self-righteousness for about five minutes, realised what a hypocrite I was being. I have no right to judge anyone. But it did help me come to the true realisation – I don’t want everyone to act like me, but I do want everyone to know Jesus like I do.
3. I find that throughout the holiday season, I am better able to appreciate what I have, and do my best to be helpful and humble (although this is a skill I am still working at!) Scripture, prayer, devotionals – all reminding me that Christmas is not about the spectacle, the food, the gifts (although these are a perk). The season is to remind us that God decided to come to earth to redeem us, and not only that. He came in a manner that allows us to connect with Him, and He with us. The Lord had to deal with parents and childhood and teenage problems and having a job and everything we have to deal with. His family were refugees, He was born into poverty, He was rejected and suffered and died. If Christ can make Himself humble, if He can continue to thank the Father in all circumstances, why can’t we?
So like every year, I am taking great joy in the Christmas season. However, I feel it is a deeper feeling, more spiritual, less material, not quite so fleeting. And I pray that this may continue for me (and for others) in the future.