Editor's note: This story is the second in a series that focuses on the days leading up to Christmas. Rev. Trisha Boese contends it is important to "slow down" in preparation for Dec. 25.
The Rev. Trisha Boese of Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion is, like all area clergy, swept up in preparing for the arrival of Christmas.
"It would be easy to recycle Christmas sermons year after year, because the message is the same, and yet, it's uniquely different each time it's preached and each time the parishioner hears it," she said.
The days leading up to Dec. 25, Boese contends, will naturally be filled with everything from shopping trips to concerts and holiday parties for most people.
She hopes that people's experience of the Christmas celebration isn't lost in the frenzy of it all. Each day of December may seem busier than the one before, but Boese thinks it is important for everyone – from pastors to the members of their congregations – to take time during the Advent season to simply slow down.
"If we (pastors) are doing what we hope our parishioners are doing, advent for Christmas is a time for prayer and devotion and preparation," she said. "It's a time of waiting and watching and part of that is having to get comfortable with being uncomfortable – sort of not getting the cart before the horse.
"We look for the indwelling of Christ on a daily basis. I think during Advent before Christmas and during Lent before Easter, those are our four weeks or six weeks to do those things," Boese said, "so that on Christmas and on Easter, we can really experience anew again this God who comes to dwell with us, this God who is faithful to us even through death and into resurrection."
She describes Christmas and Easter as the two bookend "big deals" in the church year.
"I think we overlook Easter because we don't have the big Christmas tree, and we don't pull out all of the lights, and we aren't in the darkness of winter at the time Easter arrives," Boese said. "I think most clergy would say they both are equally important."
She said one way she personally prepares for the arrival of Christmas is to remind herself and others of the arrival of this special season.
"Advent is a season in itself, and it's a season of waiting and preparation. I think it's too easy for us to look at the consumer side of Christmas, and then we sort of miss the boat. We don't take the time to prepare and wait and watch," Boese said. "Preparing doesn't necessarily mean having all of your Christmas shopping done my the Saturday after Black Friday. I think we sort of lose that in this culture. I think we really need to slow down our Christmas … Christmas decorations have already been up in some stores since September, and so by the time the day after Christmas hits, we're tired of it and we put everything out on the front curb.
"The time that we 'enter' Christmas is on Christmas Day, so I think we kind of have that topsy-turvy in our society," she said. "We celebrate Christmas before Christmas is actually here, when in fact this is our time to wait, and watch and listen to the longings of our heart."
When Christmas arrives a little more than two weeks from today, Boese hopes everyone receives one single, important message: "God is faithful and Jesus does come."
The time leading up to that day, this Advent season being experienced by the Christian church, offers powerful experiences.
"I think any time we really slow down enough to recognize God's presence in our midst, we are changed by it. I think our broken pieces are mended a little bit in that moment, and we're made whole again – not just ourselves, but the whole Christian community," Boese said. "If we happen to miss people throughout the rest of the year, we often see them on Christmas and Easter. What a blessing it is to have the community united again. I think it can't not succeed. When God's people are together, there God is in the midst of us."
– Look in future issues of the Vermillion Plain Talk to find stories where local church leaders give their views on the holiday season.