Dear Friends in faith:
During the holiday season the calendar has been more than generous in its attention to the act of celebration in the life of the church. Not only are we observing the four Sundays of Advent, but this year’s Christmas morning itself arrives on Sunday. What is more, all this is surrounded by a wonderful range of fun and meaningful events including caroling, chrismon arts and crafts, our children’s Christmas play, an Advent Bible Study, music from our choir, and a special Christmas Eve service. In short, when it comes to the holidays, Congregational Church of Soquel knows how to put the “Merry” in “Merry Christmas.”
What with all this abundance, it’s not surprising that the Life & Worship theme chosen for this Christmas season is, The Fullness of Life. And what better image could you choose than that of stockings, like the kind pictured on the front of our Sunday Advent bulletins. From childhood, most of us understand what this ritual means. We hang our stocking in anticipation of a promise—the act of giving and receiving (in this case receiving), the arrival of a blessing, and the patient hope of a surprise yet to be, well, filled! Yes, Christmas festivities in our commercial culture have always been accompanied by a certain element of greed, consumerism, “Black Friday,” the holiday retail sales index—you name it. Perhaps the stocking has become something of playful icon for that stubborn impulse.
But let me suggested that this symbol, looked at differently, may lead us to a meaning far beyond the selfish notions it otherwise seems to imply. In Ephesians 3:19 the writer puts a twist on what it means to have your stocking filled:
“Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with the fullness of God!”
The exclamation point was my idea, not the authors, but I think it’s fitting. This scripture describes something like a WOW moment. Here, we are not simply waiting to be “filled,” but rather “fulfilled,” as in, our humanity being made whole. And with what you ask? With the fullness of God!
Now tell me, how would you like to find that in your stocking on Christmas morning? What would you do on behalf of this world if you found the inexhaustible and inclusive love of God in your possession? May I suggest that, in the story of Jesus' birth, that is exactly what we have, the opportunity to apply God's love among our families, friends, community and world in a manner that reveals the coming of the Christ child, God’s embodiment of compassion, reconciliation and, as always,