Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Experiencing Christmas as an Adult

Today’s Epistle Reading: St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1-8 - BRETHREN, about Melchizedek we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the work of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.

Christmas is just a “few days” away and you should be wondering why the Church offers us this particular reading. Keeping in mind this reading is assigned to be read on Wednesday of the 24th Week following Pascha, it routinely is read during December. While it is not particularly for the Christmas season, as so many daily things are focused on the “holidays” around our society, it does have something to teach us for Christmas.

Christmas is a season during which many of look back with fond memories of our childhood. Many even judge their current Christmas experience with memories of “better days” when we were children. It is a natural process, but one that rarely encourages growth and maturity. If we experienced Christmas with the same maturity that we had when we were children, we would never be satisfied. We would never be willing to help others. In essence we would be what some have called grown children. Others use the term spoiled brat.

The same can be said of our spiritual growth and maturity. If we insist on experiencing Jesus Christ (and now I’m not just speaking of Christmas) with the mind of a child, we will forever remain self-oriented brats. I often use the comparison to math. If we went through life only knowing 3rd grade mathematics and expecting the world experience of a 3rd grader, we would not only be lonely and miserable, we would be in danger. Intuitively we know that we MUST grow up, and most of us do pretty well in our secular lives growing up, but what about our spiritual life? This is the warning from Saint Paul today.

If you are still experiencing Christmas as a 3rd grader, maybe it’s time you grow up and put some effort into preparing your soul to receive Christ this year, and no so much about how well the Christmas Tree is decorated.

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