Advent Day Sixteen Devotion - "More Than Simple" by John Arnett

Be fruitful and multiply…  

Genesis 1:28

Several years ago I read this statement in a Chinese fortune cookie, “We were not put here just to survive but to create.”

A rendering created by this devotion author's father, Wendell Arnett, for the Upper Room in 1941. 

A rendering created by this devotion author's father, Wendell Arnett, for the Upper Room in 1941. 

That captures some of the meaning of the modern Christmas.  I was once a part of a religious community that didn’t believe in celebrating any of the various liturgical holidays such as Christmas or Easter, because the early church didn’t do that.

But the Christmas story and even the advent of Santa Claus have inspired millions of people to create music, paintings, drama, and books, just to name a few of the creative endeavors.  The giving of gifts has boosted many an economy and fed many workers’ families.  There’s a lot of creative energy, and I give thanks for it.

Since we’re talking about expectations this Advent, I imagine members of the early church, which met in homes and practiced the simple commands of loving God and the neighbor, would be amazed at the extravaganzas that modern day churches promote during this season.  They would have been awed by the gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and the ever increasing repertoire of Christmas music.  But they shouldn’t have been surprised.  Didn’t Jesus tell them they “would perform even greater works?” (John 14:11)  All of these artful creations act to glorify God and the Son, and God is at work in all these activities. 

So, while we understand that the gospel is really very simple and God’s demands on us are modest (Love God, love your neighbor, act justly, love mercy), we celebrate those who thrill us with their gifts of beautiful music, writing, architecture, painting, drama, and the wide variety of worship experiences

Thanks be to God who inspires us in finding creative ways to embrace and find meaning in the spiritual aspects of life. Amen.