Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas 2013: Bad Draws & Wrapping Paper

Pretty much everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis is aware that I like board games. (Quit snickering... "like" is just a nice way to avoid the phrase "am obsessed about board games".) Anyone unclear on the concept should have picked up on it Friday when I managed to relate dice-rolling& probability to some important spiritual truths.

Part of my enjoyment of gaming is my part in the online community of board gamers - I participate in a number of mailing lists, read a bunch of blogs, and even listen to a few podcasts. In addition, I write for the Opinonated Gamers and appear as a guest on gaming podcasts. (OK, maybe you were right to snicker at the last paragraph.)

So it's no real surprise that all that conversation about gaming sometimes ends up bleeding into my thoughts about life & God & important stuff. Which is what happened when Christopher Dearlove (a gamer in the U.K.) posted this little blurb as he was writing about a new game:

I've played enough games to know bad draws stick in the mind more than good ones, so I suspect it wasn't as bad as I felt it to be...

And that got me thinking... if that's true of games (I can give you story after story about drawing the wrong card at the wrong time, or how I lost a game of Settlers due to one bad die roll on my last turn), it is probably true in my life as well.

So if I'm going to really "give thanks in all circumstances" (1st Thessalonians 5), then part of my job is to remember all of my life - the "good draws" as well as the bad. When Braeden wakes up at 3 am with a nightmare, that isn't the whole story of his life - it doesn't take into account the miracle of his birth (after 3 years of trying & multiple miscarriages) or the wonder of his healing from Kawasaki syndrome in 2005.

God made sure the Israelites had this hardwired into the lives - festivals like Passover & Hanukah were not simply excuses for getting together & eating until you had to loosen your belt... they were reminders of places & times when God has moved in amazing ways to take care of His people.

In Christian tradition, that's what Advent is all about - remembering the birth of Jesus Christ with more than just a one-day orgy of ripped wrapping paper & too much eggnog. By setting aside the 24 days leading up to Christmas to ponder on the mystery of the Incarnation (big fancy theological word meaning "God becoming man"), we take time to remember that in a world full of "bad draws", we were given a very good draw when Jesus was born.

There's a lot of different ways to celebrate Advent - but however you choose to do it, I want to encourage you to spend less time & energy on shopping for the perfect gift or decorating your home so that the photographer from Better Homes & Gardens can come in & do a layout... and instead spend more time enjoying your relationship with Jesus Christ - whose birth we are celebrating.

This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving & receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ. Frank McKibben

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