Admittedly, I can be kind of a grouch around the holidays. I’ve never really been one of those people who gets super excited about Christmas music, lights or decorating in general. Couple that with my introvert tendencies and my displeasure with northern Indiana’s long, dark, cold winters, and I’m generally most happy to curl up at home with a hot beverage and my closest, dearest people.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not annoyed by the merriment. I’m just not the one who is going to organize the ugly sweater contest.
However, now that I am a parent, I do enjoy witnessing my little person become more aware of the holidays and his surprise and joy when a new element is discovered.
And that really defines what I hold most dear and inspiring about Christmas. At the heart of this celebration is a reminder of the wild and imagination-surpassing way God works in our world.
If we are paying attention, the whole biblical story prepares us. We are told over and over again how God chooses unlikely characters to accomplish great things and lays the groundwork for salvation through unconventional means.
In Jesus’ birth, we see salvation come to the world in a defenseless babe in a less-than-ideal living arrangement — a manger.
I’m sure you know the story. Because we are so accustomed to it, we sometimes forget it is a scandalous event. It makes me wonder what other scandalous holy work God is up to these days. What will the Holy Spirit surprise us with next?
After a year like 2020, the opportunities for surprising salvation work are stark. Perhaps they were always there, but after the collective trauma of the pandemic, the challenge certainly feels heavier.
Anabaptists are often proud to be the doers. We build things. We volunteer. We organize. We show up. And all of this is integral to building God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.
The hard part is when we need to sit and be still. It can feel contrary to how we have been taught to love our neighbor.
We know, though, that rest is important, even an act of faithfulness. It is a discipline that demonstrates we recognize God is much bigger than any of us. As humans we need stillness and rest in order to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.
Please take care of yourself this holiday season. Even as we need to rest under the weight of heavy loads, God’s ways won’t be stopped. Wherever you are and however differently you are celebrating, I hope you can rest as you need to and find joy in even surprising circumstances.
We’ve collected a few stories of joy in this issue. I offer them as a starting place for anyone who’s felt joy has been distant during this time. May we find it together.
From all of us at Anabaptist World, we wish you a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.