The Seasonal Practice:
THROW (OR ATTEND) A HUGE PARTY
The incarnation is the divine affirmation of material things, because it’s the remarkable point in history where God took on material form and lived in the material world.
Which means in order to understand and love God, we need to understand His love for the material world.
Think about this. In the beginning God creates the world, making things and having a ball. He creates light and atoms, tree rings and fingernails, northern lights and human hearts. He celebrates it by shouting Tov!, the Hebrew word for good, because "God looked and saw that it was good."
So God puts Adam and Eve, the pinnacle of creation, in the garden. The image of God, embodied in flesh. Adam and Eve are to rule over this garden and steward it - but, of course, they fail. Instead of loving God and stewarding his creation, they love themselves and ruin creation. In the fall of man was the fall of all things, and creation is cursed.
But the story isn’t over.
The advent of Jesus Christ the Son of God in the material world is not just the announcement that despite our fallenness our souls will be saved. It is that, but it is also more than that.
It is the announcement that despite the fallenness of all things, Jesus the King has died to redeem his whole project. Our souls and our bodies. Redemption is for those who are in Christ, but also for the world that He so lovingly made, and now will redeem.
So it is we see the People of God in a holy city. A place of jasper and gold, one that sparkles with the presence of God.
In this sense, it may be true that we need a more materialistic Christmas, not a less a materialistic one.
I don’t mean this, of course, in the love of money and the puffed up greed of thinking your life will be remade by a new pair of winter boots. That is repeating the sin of Adam and Eve and inverting creation. By worshipping stuff instead of the Maker of stuff. Done that way we will always ruin stuff.
I mean it in understanding that the birth of Jesus the King has vast implications for our bodies and our souls. This means recovering the stewardship of the material world in order to glorify God - this is the way we were created to live.
So we participate in the redemption of all things by celebrating it with stuff.
So bring forth the egg nog and spike the cider! May we go wild with the hope of a world made new. Hang the tinsel and the lights, may the world sparkle with the magic of Emmanuel - God with us. Sing the songs loudly and sing them often, may the world echo and tremble with the joy of salvation brought near.
The King has come. Let’s have a party. A big one this time.
It is neither practical nor advisable for everyone in your community to throw a party. So team up with some people. Nor is it necessary to spend a lot of money or time in preparation. You certainly can if that brings you joy and helps your community celebrate, but you don't have to.
My recommendation is just to get together with whoever you are doing The Common Rule with, and make an evening out of it.
Do one big batch of mulled wine or whatever your favorite festive drink is - pick something that will make the whole house smell like a world made new - and ask everyone to bring a bit of food to share. If your community is less formal and thrives on spontaneity, then relax and laugh, and enjoy that there is something worth celebrating. Eat and drink your fill in the happiness that Jesus has come for us and will come again for us.
If your community likes structure, then check out Carols and Cocktails for a way to blend parties and prayer. The idea there is to have a party, and for 20 minutes or so in the middle call everyone together to sing some songs, give some toasts, and say some communal blessings. You can download the guide and modify as you wish.
Whichever you do, just have a ball and make sure your friends do too. Also, consider shouting "Tov!" in the middle of it.