Sacred and Profane: A Secular Christmas?
Red holly; green pine; multi-colored ornaments; crinkly wrapping paper; jingling bells; drumming rhythms: these phenomena are only the beginning of pre-Christmas sights and sounds. Much of our sense bombardment seems to have origins in the secular sphere—of presents, of Santa, of decorating, of purchasing–all in a flurry of activity in realms of the world not designated “religious.” However, the feast of Christmas is celebrating Incarnation. Incarnation in the realm of Mystery involves the Word made Flesh, the Divine dwelling among us on our earth, in our world, like us in all things save sin. The Wisdom of God embodied and embedded in the world and bounded by a place and a time, a geography and a chronology, a social context and a cultural milieu. Although enfleshment is limiting, it has full salvific potential in God’s creative plans. Incarnational thinking reminds us to embrace all of the created world as the site of God’s presence and action “from the straw to the sheep to the stars.” Even the comet Ison adds a cosmic touch to the phenomena all around us that are signs and symbols conveying significant parts of the Christmas message.
Sacramental realism is a comprehensive way of thinking that embodies an organic worldview in which the person sees him- or herself as part of a relational network and temporal continuum embracing all of reality, material and spiritual.
Roberto Goizueta in Wendy M. Wright, Mary and the Catholic Imagination, 40-41, Paulist Press, 2010
So we don’t have to worry about the hustle and bustle, and maybe not even the commercialization and frenetic pace all around us. All has been potentially sacralized in the implications of creation which embedded goodness in everything and incarnation which embodies holiness in everyone. All is revelatory.
Through the Incarnation, Jesus embraced the human condition. Advent/Christmas is thus the time for embracing the totality of the human—and social–condition.
All can be sacralized. Whether the food is delicious or not ready on time; the call, a welcome surprise or a delaying annoyance; the cleaning, happily assisted or a lonely chore; the purchasing, thoughtfully successful or unsuccessfully bombarding, there’s grace potentially permeating it all. Find it. Give it.
Through Your Incarnation
help me to find You among us.
Through Your Enfleshment,
enable me to embrace all realities of humanness
in myself and others.
Through Your dwelling among us
inspire me with thoughts that sacralize,
words that redeem,
hands that soften
the rough edges of human experience
so that all shines with the sparkle
of Christmas grace.