One of the things that makes this season difficult for some is the sense of imposed happiness – the fact that we’re supposed to fee, or pretend to feel, something deliriously joyful. Imposing emotions on folks is troubling, not least because it doesn’t work, but also because coercion is never a manifestation of love. The fact that we are asked to squeeze ourselves into a feeling space we may not want to inhabit is made more troubling by another fact: everyone seems to be running around buying things we don’t need in an effort at expressing love. It’s no wonder Scrooge wanted the season banned.
The pressure to perform joy should be consigned to the dustbin. What’s valuable about Advent may well be consigned to the dustbin. What’s valuable about Advent may well be the simplest things: that as we prepare for Christmas we can find happiness in the faces of friends, in lights we put up to announce the season, in mulled wine and tasty food, in sharing in the bounty of the earth and her people, and in our willingness to treat strangers with warmth.Contemporary Reading – Will You Keep Watch with Me: Advent Reflections of Peacemakers, Edited by Claire Brown and Michael McRay, Excerpts by Gareth Higgins
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.Luke 2:1-7 (NRSV)