I keep wondering what Christmas preparations will look like in Mexico and Central and South America. Weather and seasons, it seems, are so tied in to our celebration of holidays. Do they send Currier and Ives Christmas cards in Peru, I wonder? As I pack my suitcase for our trip, I question if I should take my snowflake pin and matching earrings that I like to wear this time of year—or will they be out of place as I cross the Equator? I started thinking about seasonal associations with religious holidays a few years ago when a seminary friend asked how differently Easter would be celebrated in southern parts of the world, where it was fall in March or April. The Easter season in the Southern Hemisphere would not support the association we Northern Hemisphere folk make with resurrection, renewal, and new life—you know, with all those eggs and crocuses and baby bunnies. And so I am curious to note the differences in Christmas preparation traditions as we sail far to the south, all the way to Chile, where it will be summer.
I remind myself that Easter or Christmas associations tied in with the natural order are not the matters of real significance. What’s important to reflect on this time of year is that the Word became Flesh: God became one of us. We need no association with snowflakes, cold weather, Currier and Ives, parties, sleds or sleighs (as much as I like all of these things). In fact, the coming of the babe in a manger wasn’t dependent on any season. He came, rather, in the “fullness of time.”
As I meet other Christians in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile, I will ask about and observe their traditions. I will remember first, however, what truly unites us all: the greatest story ever told. You know—the story of a God who came to earth, showed us what God is like, performed miracles, died for sin, and then rose three days later. I invite you to prepare your hearts during the rest of Advent, this season of reflection, and contemplate how Jesus came in all humility to serve and suffer so that we might truly live. I’ll see you Christmas Eve!