January 10, 2017

"Undecorating" the Christmas Tree

By Archimandrite Iakovos Kanakis

The great joy of preparing to decorate the Christmas tree is nothing like the moment of undecorating it and putting the ornaments back into the closet. There is as much enthusiasm for the former as there is frustration with the latter. But why so much frustration? The frustration, which sometimes borders on depression, has to do with the awareness of the futility to acquire a false joy during the festive season. It is true that if this year also a change of mood is associated with artificial lights, then we also will feel a similar frustration, and its corresponding emptiness.

If anyone notices with what reluctance and gloominess we remove the decorations they will come to understand much. People are deceived wanting to fool themselves. Once again this year we did not experience the true light that truly illumines, excites and pleases people. We are right to seek and desire joy, which is why we were created. It shows a nostalgia for the divine, the search for beauty, the pure, the joyful, which are aspects of our human nature before the fall. We seek change, something new, renewal. Think about it. With His Birth in the Cave Christ blesses and sanctifies the earth, with His Baptism in the Jordan He sanctifies the waters, therefore all of creation is sanctified. Yes, but what is the human body? It has both earth and water. Our very nature invites us to rebirth.

All these things are valid and operate in people when they want. But people seek joy in other lights, which are earthly and man-made. They seek joy the easy way and in prosperity, and so they receive temporary and fleeting joy. They do not go to the well to drink crystal clear water but choose waste water and then suffer from their choice.

It is tragic when you consider Christmas, New Years and Epiphany are like any other day, or even worse when you say: "It's better if they don't come." It is like the man on a journey, who although he is thirsty and a well is in front of him, he does not see it because he walks with his head down. God offers us so much joy even in our pain, in the difficulties we face, that we cannot even imagine. Yes, even in pain if you can believe it, will you find joy and relief, although it seems like an oxymoron.

However, to tell you the truth, it is very difficult nowadays to live truly because many things are fake and artificial today. Great spiritual struggle is needed to not find yourself a victim of consumption and advertising. You need to experience the great Love so as not to be confused by the lures that are presented as signs of modernity and contemporary life. This Love has a name, and it is Christ! He was born and will be born, was baptized and will be baptized until we sense that they were all done out love for us in order that we may approach Him.

The holidays have passed, but our lives have not passed. Although we may not have won the "battle", we have not lost the war. We have all been given a lease in life to look towards the salvific events once again. Let us approach the swaddling clothes in the manger and the depths of the Jordan. Christ is always found with open arms crucified for us. Through the Cross we are led to the Resurrection.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.