The Spirit of Christmas

     How do you get into the spirit of Christmas?  How do you stay focused on the meaning of Christmas and not let the secular, social aspect of it dominate your experience of the season?
     For me this year, the answer is to consider poverty.  I have areas of my life that are impoverished: I do not have enough time; I do not have enough energy; I cannot help each of my kids with all the things they want; I cannot get my duties done in a day; I find some areas of our house so ugly and I’d like to re-do them but can’t; I find our house itself, well, impoverished.
     But then I think of how Christ made his entry into the world. Why did God enter the world in poverty?  It is absolutely astounding.  God is shouting a message to us.  God is dramatically trying to get our attention with this story of Christ being born of poor, dislocated woman, in a cave sheltering animals.  Poor shepherds are the witnesses of human history’s greatest event.  It is so counter-intuitive that the almighty God would forgo luxuries, comfort and wealth which would better befit Him, or so we might think.  What is God trying to tell us?
     I think God is saying, “Actually, poverty better befits me.”  He is saying, “My nature is not pompous or arrogant or superior.  Poverty leads to humility, and humility leads to love.  And I am Love.  So, poverty better reflects me than wealth does.”  
     I see in this story a message about embracing poverty.  Riches are often obstacles to God.  For whatever reason, our fallen natures do not mix well with wealth.  We need poverty on various levels to remediate our broken natures and instincts.  Poverty is our friend.  Poverty may be hard in the moment but it helps us toward heaven.
    This Advent, I am seeking to joyfully embrace my poverty.  I am seeking Christ’s face in each way in which my life comes up short.  Maybe God will be born there.