I really enjoy the month of December. Originally the Roman’s tenth month (with the Latin preface “d-e-c” for ten), our current twelfth month serves as the ending of the year, the beginning of winter, the month with the longest amount of darkness in a twenty-four hour period, and the time for Christian season of Advent and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It can be cold and dark; it can also be colorful and festive. It is often poignant, filled with nostalgic memories of Christmases past made all the more sentimental by familiar music, old fashioned Christmas carols and classic Christmas movies.
For me, it has also been a month of family and friends, a time to reappreciate the relationships I have been fortunate to have over the years. In December, memories swirl in my heart and head. One minute, I’m a little boy again, thrilled with the prospect of attentive parents and new toys. The next minute, I’m transported to my early days as a father. I remember myself watching with joy my own little children filled with energy and building their own sweet Christmas memories.
A few notes of a song or the fragrant scent of a particular smell sends my mind across the years and miles to special places. December is special.
And then we have the real meaning of the season, the larger, sacred purpose for the making of all these memories. The season of Christmas, punctuated with the many and colorful traditions of what we call Advent, reminds us to be more attentive, to remain attuned to the holy strains woven into the fabric, colors and sounds of December. Perhaps John the Baptist says it best:
I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness;
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.
It is usually at the beginning of December, at the start of Advent, that we hear John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness. He quotes Isaiah and utilizes the same imagery famous in the world of that ancient prophet. The imperial kings, Persia’s for example, would occasionally venture out to visit the provinces of the empire. In those days the way needed to be prepared. The crooked needed to be made straight, the valleys lifted up and the mountains brought low. In other words, a highway was made level and straight in the wilderness for the king to pass.
John’s usage of this image conveys the same idea for the role of God’s messengers. So this is not about John the Baptist, but the one he is introducing and for whom he is preparing the way. John introduces the possibility of a peace that passes all understanding because he is introducing Jesus. And so it is for us. Our lives can be a grand preparation for a presence beyond ourselves – an offering of peace to those around us. We too, can prepare the way for Jesus in the lives and hearts of others – and ourselves.
Let us enjoy the month of December as never before as we offer together, the gift of peace. May it be so.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me …
– Jill Jackson and Sy Miller