I have always been captivated by Christmas. The anticipation, the glowing lights, the warm air, and the delicious food. I have always celebrated ‘Advent’ with books and calendars, marking a slow countdown to a day of generosity, laughter, and uninterrupted time with family. Christmas has always felt like a day suspended outside of reality. A farewell to a long year. Twenty-four hours of magic.
When I became a follower of Jesus, I was struck by the theology that lay behind the rituals and celebrations I had grown up with. My wonder was in turn directed to the Spirit, and the story of the child born in Bethlehem – a story that became such a source of freedom and peace for me.
This is my first Christmas married, and my husband and I are so excited to be creating our own Christmas rituals, celebrations and offerings of service, as a family. My husband set up the Christmas tree about twelve weeks early, and I have been making advent calendars as Christmas presents. We also get to serve the faith and arts communities we are part of over the season - hosting a contemplative night of worship for artists that are pursuing faith.
We are expecting our first child next year, and this sole Christmas ‘just the two of us’ celebrates our relationship on its own, but also greatly anticipates the impending birth. I can’t help but admire the brave figure of Mary, bringing a child into the world with such obedience and joy.
This year, I’ve written a series of spoken-word pieces to be performed as the Nativity for The Salvation Army’s ‘Christmas Gift’ concert, at Hamer Hall in Melbourne. I will get to perform poetry from the perspective of Mary, and I feel very honoured.
We have also decided to decrease our consumerism this year, and increase our sustainability. We’re quite distressed at what an industry Christmas is for us in Australia, and the pressure – on both us and our loved ones - to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. Instead, we’re attempting to give only second-hand or hand-made gifts to all of our friends and family, and to communicate that they are not obligated to buy for us.
Anna McGahan is a writer and actor based in Melbourne. She was a speaker at the recent Justice Conference Australia in Melbourne, which is hosted by TEAR and friends. Anna is passionate about spiritual revival and restoration within the performing arts industries. She also blogs at www.aforbiddenroom.com
This piece has also been shared on the TEAR Australia website here