Rev. Daniel Humbert invites you to worship with us this Advent. On Sunday, we'll talk about the Ghost of Christmas Past in our Advent worship series, Scrooge: The Advent of Hope.
Christmas is coming! Ready or not. It's the great pandemonium, as I like to call it. The decorating, shopping, parties, gatherings, shopping, events, cards, shopping, lights, conversations, shopping, relatives, donating, and more shopping. It is the great marathon run as a sprint. It's sometimes enough to turn me, and perhaps you, into a Scrooge!
I get Scrooge-ish not because I'm cheap (well, maybe a little—I love giving gifts and sharing with others), but rather because I want Christmas to be more about Jesus than about us. Often the pandemonium can obscure the purpose of the celebration. I get Scrooge-ish because I want the "mass of Christ" to celebrate the birth of love and hope, peace and joy.
I think I might get a little of my Scrooge-ish behavior from my dad. As a kid, I remember my dad getting very uptight during the Thanksgiving to Christmas window. I never understood. I'm the youngest of four, and therefore I didn't understand a lot of things when I was a kid. My dad has been gone for 25 years now, but the "Ghost of Christmas Past" that I often remember was his unease or even "spirit-killing" attitude about the season. What I didn't get then, that I now get as a father, is both the desire for all things to be "Norman Rockwell" perfect and for us to be able to celebrate the birth of Christ together as a family.
When these two conditions couldn't be met for my dad, he lost his enthusiasm for the season. That often rubbed off on our family celebrations. The first condition couldn't be met, because, well, it doesn't exist. We all hope for "family perfection," but it never seems to materialize. Someone is always upset, or not pleased, or not doing what is expected, or not acting appropriately! And for my dad (I know in hindsight), he was unable to celebrate with his family because his parents both died young. I barely even knew my dad's parents because I was so young when they died. He was sad at Christmas time—every year after his parent's passing. He didn't know how to overcome his sadness, so he lived it out in "spirit-killing" ways—quick to anger, sharp comments, impatience, depressive moods.
He never ruined Christmas for us. I always enjoyed Christmas—I got gifts after all! But I always thought something was missing. I really think the Ghost of Christmas Past sometimes haunts me. I wonder if I don't sometime let that ghost impact how I live into family celebrations even to this day.
I think I'm not alone in this. Scrooge is an old guy, but he is as relatable to us today as he was when Dickens created his character. There's a reason we still use phrases like, "you're such a Scrooge" or "bah, humbug" during this time of year. We can all get infected with the affliction.
In part, that's why we're offering our current worship series, Scrooge: The Advent of Hope. Everybody needs hope! We often get so caught up in the scurrying of the season, we lose sight of the advent of hope in the birth of Jesus. Sometimes we let the ghosts of our past or the fear of our future blind the blessing of the present gift of God's love now. Maybe this year, we could face our Christmas ghosts and discover the gift of hope. For the next three weeks, we will explore our own personal Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
I invite you to join us as we discover hope in the havoc! Our desire for each of us will be to leave our own personal Scrooge behind and join the Savior so that we can reclaim joy through his birth.
Rev. Daniel Humbert