Minister, theologian and author, John Killinger, tells a story about a Christmas shop that caught his eye one past summer. Even though Christmas was still six months away, the shop was packed with items. There were crèche scenes from all over the world; elves and Santas; sleighs and reindeer of every size; bells and music boxes; angels and drummer boys; stars and snowmen. A loudspeaker broadcast a constant stream of carols. It was infectious, Killinger continues, even in the summertime.
Then, he says, he noticed it – a small sign in a place where it would be hard to miss. The sign said, “Christmas Spoken Here”.
There is no better slogan for us in the Christian spiritual tradition, Killinger proposes. And not just at this time of year, but in any season.
Hard to argue, since what we commemorate in this season, during Advent and then Christmas, is the embodiment of God’s essence coming into the world as one of us. Coming into the world in a way that we can see and hear. In a way that we can touch. In a way that we can personally identify with. In a way that is neither hypothetical nor theoretical, but is instead real and relatable. In a way that we can aspire to emulate.
Because of that, we are called to speak the language of Christmas year round – people who speak the language of hope, joy, peace and love; of compassion, justice and forgiveness to the world in every season.
That is our “spiritual language” as Christians. It is our true “native tongue”.
Perhaps then, we might consider treating this Advent and Christmas as a “refresher course” – as a time to brush up on our “spiritual language” skills.
As a time to practice speaking Christmas in a way that can be better heard and understood in a nation in which so many people seem to have become unable and even unwilling to want to speak to each other. Perhaps, instead, we might try speaking a little less in the language of political party, or ideology, or geography, and a little more in the language of Christmas.
Individually and together, let’s be a place where “Christmas is Spoken Here” as a first language.