Christmas is awkward, just like Aunt Ada’s Fruitcake.

a thief comes to steal and destroy life; i have come to give life to the fullest. — jesus

this suspense is terrible. i hope it will last. — oscar wilde

the world is full of suffering. it is also full of the overcoming of it. — helen keller

One week.

Just seven days.

As I write, we have approximately 168 hours left, give or take a few minutes, to get Christmas right this year. Really right — you know, the Christmas cards mailed, the tree, lights, and all the right ornaments up, the Dickens’ Villages and the family holiday heirlooms all in their places. The presents all meticulously wrapped under the tree – this year you really are gonna surprise them with the perfect gifts they never saw coming! But, if you also plan to sleep and maybe hit the office a few days this week, you have more like . . .. 78 hours. Luckily, Walmart is open 24 hours ’till then!

And next week, the kids will be out of school. Your college-age or adult kids may be coming home for the weekend. Or maybe you’re traveling to their place this year. The grandkids, or at least some of them, will be there. Aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters — it’s always an awkward mix, right?

Like the ever-mysterious Christmas Fruit Cake your Aunt Ada brings every year (What’s even in that dense, overstuffed, neon green and red, be-spotted, baked brick of flour and dried fruits?), it’s the one true dessert challenge — one that few brave (or foolishly curious) revelers ever venture to enter into.

Does the candied fruit make it worthy? Or is it its resilience, its longevity? (How many times did we freeze one of those things only to discover it 3 years later, unchanged, like an experiment in cryogenics?)

Here’s a fun post-Christmas family trip idea — take your fruitcake to Manitou Springs, Colorado for its Annual Fruit Cake Toss! While the record for a human toss stands at 290 ft (no small accomplishment), a team from Boeing created a pneumatic cannon one year and shot theirs into the nearby mountains.

Luckily, no animals (or people) were injured by the flying fruitcake, which was found by a lone hiker three days later, still intact.

Anyway, Christmas is that time of year for gifts of smiling children’s faces, laughter, music, catching up and reminiscing with family and friends, as well as exhausted parents up all night building that special toy, bicycle, or recreational combination fort/slide/swing set out back.

And Christmastime is also a collection of awkward moments and uncomfortable encounters with certain family members, buffets, and tabletops filled with leftover food and dirty dishes, wrapping paper, and boxes strewn about the place.

For some of us, Christmastime also holds melancholic moments around loneliness or grief and loss or guilt and shame. If we dare look beyond our own homes and lives, these moments involve men and women on our streets, living without family, living from blanket to blanket and day to day — by whatever means and generosity possible. It’s children and their families still separated by walls and borders and cages and small spaces — and politics.

At this holiday gathering in particular, we’ll have all sorts of conversations, debates, and arguments about the impeachment of Donald Trump — or doing whatever it takes to avoid such encounters!

So, here’s a recommendation. Think about joy!

You may now want to ask, “How can I think about joy at a time like this?” To which I’d answer, “How can anyone not think about joy, especially at a time like this?”

If the birth of the Christ child is anything, it is a profound moment of the incarnate presence of God in the world — in all of life. It is, as William Blake wrote, “Life delighting in life.”

God does not come into the world only upon request, as if responding to the Bat-Signal over Gotham City. No, God is already in all our moments and encounters — an invitation at every turn to bring life to life, to clear a path for wholeness in the brokenness.

This is what we get to do for one another. This is the joy that holds it all together, even in the most difficult times. Maybe it’ll be someone bringing life to you or perhaps you will be the one to go out and find moments of delight and joy that you can share with others.

The kin-dom of God has always been about a connection with the world. The presents and the gatherings and the decorations and the splendor — it’s all fine and good. (By the time you’re reading this, I’ve still got some 30 hrs or so to get it right!)

But you and I also have this moment, and the next, and the one after that…to find joy in these times and connect the dots of incarnate love at every turn.

Life delights in life.

Merry Christmas!

This Sunday, December 22, at eleven:eleven, downtown:
Our Post-Solstice, Pre-Christmas Eve,
FINAL eleven:eleven of the Year Celebration
 “joy – the proof is in the pudding!”
featuring stories, carols, special music, and guests,
including actor, Jakie Cabe
And Santa!
(that’s right, Santa is stopping by for some pictures and surprises!)

If you’re in town, join us!

Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven

P.S. eleven:eleven, downtown will NOT meet on December 29. But all are invited to worship with an All church casual service of stories and carols in the Main Sanctuary, at 11:00 am.


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