It could be the fact that I’m getting older. It could be the fact that this time of year is just extremely busy and filled with lots of last minute things to do. Maybe it was the migraine I had yesterday that is still lingering behind my eyes. Or, perhaps it is the never ending rush of hate filled diatribe on the internet. I just do not feel very Christmassy this year. Something feels off. Maybes its my focus, maybe its my heart, honestly I wish I knew. Oh sure the lights are up, the classics are playing on TV and radio. We’ve preached messages about God coming to us, and sung Christmas carols. Yet, there is this fog of yuck that is just floating over everything.
This country is suffering from a severe lack of accountability in its dealings with others. You see videos of people being abused, animals being treated cruelly for no reason, children being abandoned only find follow up comments with the likes of “LOL” or “ROFL”. Follow those nonsense letters with a profanity laced rant of ignorance and you get my drift. People simply do not know how to people anymore. We cannot blame a political candidate, or leader for this problem. We have allowed it. We have allowed it with our social media “freedom” and our lack of compassion and empathy for any one other than ourselves. Possibly the worst thing that has happened to our culture is the ability to comment on anyone’s picture, post, or article without accountability has torn a whole in our moral fabric.
I was teaching last night, and some of it made sense at least. The birth of Christ occurred at a rather rough time in History. Governments were shaken outside of Rome, and even within Rome they were pretty unstable and definitely not beneficial to the vast majority of the populace. There was ,in fact, a massive lack of accountability to one’s fellow man. And so Jesus is born. He isn’t born in grand hall, or golden room, or any of the opulence that He deserved. He is born, in the open air, or a cave (sorry, but the idea of an inn is a not really a fitting part of history, and is most likely a poor translation or scribes addendum). His birth is announced to a group of shepherds. The lowly, not well thought of part of society that was untrusted to the point of being barred from testimony in court. Why? Because God is beginning breaking down boundaries between the mighty and lowly.
It is amazing to me that this time of year we see so many barriers get put up. This “War On Christmas” nonsense pops up and we go to our corners, and other sides go to their corners and as Ben Carson says we “Just hate”. If Christmas really means that much to you, then why does your life outside of this season not reflect it? I have a few thoughts on that.
It is easy to care about people this time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas usher in this season of looking out for those less fortunate. We have created a slot of time to think about it. We have sales, and food drives, and meals, and all of these things that makes empathy easy and non threatening. Just like the Nativity Jesus is non threatening. There is nothing threatening about an infant. An infant is cute and adorable, and cuddly and all those things that make us feel good inside. The lifestyle that infant calls you to however is not such a simple thing.
You see that infant grew up. He ushered in God’s Kingdom on earth and called al who would to come follow Him and live in that Kingdom here, now, and then on the other side in the perfection of creation. But it isn’t pretty. It requires us to do more than be dismissive of others in a comment box. It requires more than 25 days of giving a rip about your neighbor. It requires a death to self, a death to what you understand as freedom, and rebirth into something much grander, and yet far more humble. That my friends is a threatening thing. The cross of Christ is not a pretty sight. It is a deep contrast to the manger. Yet we cannot have one without the other. Beauty, I suppose can only be magnified but its opposite. Christmas is easier than Easter. Giving a present is easier than giving your life, your self.
So what?! What is my point?
The beauty of Christmas, the feeling I should have is not based on an evergreen tree with shiny wrapped gifts under it. It is not in the “magic” of the season. The beauty of Christmas is the leveling of the field. The birth of Christ announced the change of the world from a place of desperate hopelessness to a world filled with hope because it’s creator was setting about redeeming it and making it new. He was announcing that each and every person born, was going to have the ability to be made whole.
So as we wander around (anti) social media, and we read the news, and listen to the reports of the nastiness of the world. Know this and be comforted, God is still in control. There is nothing that has or will occur that He does not know about. Do not despair and do not fear, for the Angel announced it to the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
People will continue to be a source of disappointment and discouragement. Trolls will always be in the comment section waiting to drag you down to their level. But Jesus was still born for them as well. Christmas is about recognizing that we are all equally in need of grace. If you can give a measure of grace to your fellow human, do so all year, not just when Coca Cola puts Santa Claus on a can (did they even do that tis year).