Finding the Holy

The holidays are only holy if we make them so.

These words popped off the page of one of my Advent and Christmas devotionals a couple of weeks ago when I was perusing the books in my pastor’s study while crafting the Advent sermon series. They seemed to pierce through the holiday distractions, as if to ask: Is the holiness of God’s light and love, mercy and grace, finding room in the devotion and action of my days amid the hurried rush of this busy season?

The holidays are only holy if we make them so. I began thinking about those places where I experience holiness in the bustling, joyful, painful, complicated season of Advent which is about something so much deeper than all the stuff we often get caught up in.

I imagine I’m like most of you. On top of the usual daily rhythms, I’ve been buying gifts and wrapping them up, writing notes and scurrying to the Post Office, donning the dog with a Christmas collar and hosting friends for dinner, making family plans and packing a suitcase for travel. I would suggest that all of this busy-ness is a form of holiness, in that it is bound up in love and joy, but not all of it is pure devotion to God.

When our children were young and Christmas was even more chaotic, I used to wrap their presents in my church study and store them in my closet under my robes and stoles because there was no good hiding place in our house. On Christmas Eve, the four of us went to the afternoon family friendly service, then home for dinner, and I returned to lead the later one. Before preaching and presiding over communion, I’d load all the Christmas presents into my car so I was ready to head out when worship was over and the church locked up. What I remember most about that midnight drive home was its holiness. Gratitude for candlelight and Silent Night, a quiet and solitary sense of peace and joy, awareness of wonder while I gazed at the stars on my drive home. Holiness.

That’s what I hope for each of you come Sunday. In worship may you find the holy in your holiday, and may the quiet holiness of peace, joy and wonder lead you home.