by Beth LinnartzPsalm 18: 1-50 Isaiah 2: 12-22 1 Thessalonians 3: 1-13 Luke 20: 27-40
Putting on an opera requires so many more people than just the singers on the stage! The producer raises the money, the director comes up with a total concept, set designers make scenery, stage hands lug it around, costume designers draw costumes, seamstresses measure bodies and sew changes of clothing for all the principals and chorus, instrumentalists rehearse the music, the singing actors research their characters and learn their lines and blocking, the dancers practice their moves, the light designers set up lights and operate the board. This is just part of the work of putting on an opera. There are thousands of man-hours from hundreds of people invested in an opera before the curtain goes up on opening night.
So how silly would it be for the curtain finally to go up and the singers lie there on the couch moaning about headaches instead of singing, the musicians complain about aching shoulders instead of playing, and the stage hands start a fight?
But so many years at Christmastime, I’ve done just that. I’ve spent countless hours setting the stage for the holiday, and when it arrives, I’m too exhausted for the real event. I’ve invested all my energy in decorating, shopping for gifts, wrapping, baking, writing cards, and so forth, so that when my family has finally gathered and Christmas is here, instead of exuding peace on earth and goodwill towards people, I’m exhausted, complaining, and grumpy. I’ve spent all my energy setting the stage, and I’m too exhausted to have the play.
What is celebrating Christmas really about? This joyful feast celebrates the most amazing gift mankind has ever received! This is about light coming into our own dark hearts, about joy for mourning, and about rejoicing for ashes. It is about spreading compassion to those who have not deserved it, because we have received compassion that we did not deserve. It is about surprises that are better than you could have dreamed. It is about peace on earth and peace with God.
In spite of rehearsals and fittings and blocking and dancing, opera singers have to save up enough voice and energy and confidence to actually give the show when it opens. How, in Advent, can I save my strength, even as the world around me cranks up into a commercial frenzy, to give the real show of peace on earth and God’s goodwill towards men to my family, neighbors, and the poor? I don’t want to invest everything I have just in setting the stage. I want to spend the most on peace on earth and goodwill toward men.
Lord Jesus, as we prepare for Christmas, help us to let the main thing be the main thing.