New things? Shiny rings? A brand new car? Flat screen TV?
What's on that list?
Will that list bring into reality all those words of the season? Joy! Love! Peace! Merry merry merry!
I haven't opened a box on Christmas yet that made those adjectives a reality. I love opening presents. I love giving presents. But there's no box from the store that can contain joy, love, peace, or even "merry, merry, merry!" (Although I will allow that there are some great gag gifts out there that can give you a good long laugh.)
So this Advent I am going to take some time instead to write the wish list of my heart.
It's not easy to do that. Because if you start to write down what you really wish for, you open yourself up not only to the possibility of receiving it, but also the possibility of not receiving it. Not receiving my deepest longings hurts. But it teaches me where to I stand before God ... just as God came to us. Because to open your heart to its true longings places you in a position of radical openness and vulnerability.
But we should still do it. Because at its core, Christmas celebrates radical openness and vulnerability. What is riskier than God becoming a human being, trying to get our attention -- yet again -- by seeking to win our love as a newborn baby? What is more vulnerable than an infant? God just lays it all out there. Hold me, feed me, love me, tend me. And if you don't, I will die.
It doesn't get more radically open, more vulnerable than that.
So in the spirit of the baby in the manger, I wonder what might go on our list if we opened ourselves to what we really wish for this year, and let it become our Advent prayer.
... I wish that I will find someone to love.
...I wish that my child will survive middle school.
... I wish that my mother will live to see another Christmas.
... I wish that I will find meaningful work that can support my family.
... I wish that there was some solution for those folks on the street corners.
... I wish that my marriage survives.
... I wish that every child had the advantages my child has.
... I wish I could make peace with those I am estranged from.
I am going to try to let my heart be open this season. I am going to strive to share my deepest fears and longings with God. I want to trust that true joy, true love, true peace ... true merriment, even ... lies in the hope that enters the world on a dark night in Bethlehem.