Oh, No! Here it is again! Hallelujah!

Here we are again, at the best and worst time of the year. Christmas. I love it and I hate it. I listen to endless hours of Christmas music (www.pandora.com is wonderful), but refuse to hear musical triteness like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Christmas is depressing because, for most people, it's a tawdry orgy in honor of materialism run wild. It's a disgrace. For others, however, it's a time marked by hope and excitement at the dawning of a new day.


Christmas is my favorite time, because it marks - admittedly inaccurately - what is the most astonishing event ever: God becoming a man. It marks the day when hope was born, a day when we began the journey from darkness to glorious light.

I find that as the season grows near, I become more reflective, and perhaps it's as I grow older, but now I even listen to the words of some of the songs.

Some years back, I was in a church that didn't celebrate Christmas. The very idea was anathema. I swallowed hard one week, and spent my teaching time explaining why I thought it was just wrong to ignore the birth of Jesus.

I appreciate that the very early church didn't consider the birthday of Jesus worth marking, and they didn't even mention the time in their earliest writings. Only the event, and then somewhat cursorily.

But that was typical of many ancient cultures, for a variety of reasons. The church was more concerned about what happened - the results and implications of the birth of Jesus - than when it happened.

Perhaps they were wise, given the "Christmas" practices in the western world today, which demonstrate how badly our culture - and much of the church - has missed it.

I just read an article suggesting that we spend so much attention and energy on the birth of Jesus some two millennia ago that we fail to see or hear what he is doing in our midst today. Everything is focused on the birth of a helpless and loveable baby, and nothing on the present work of the King of Kings among us.

That raises some questions: Just what is he doing among us? Anything? As we attend services at our churches, celebrating the event and season, can we look around and see God undeniably at work among us? What about in our communities? Is God at work there? What is he doing? Or are we just going through the motions, trying to baptize the spending orgy around us?

As I have written these thoughts - somewhat random ones - I wonder: How, every day of my life, does the birth of Jesus affect me? What difference does it make that he was born, lived, died, and rose again? Not generically, and not theologically, but practically: How is my life different today because of Jesus?

Enough for today. Have the merriest of Christmas times, celebrating the coming of the King of Kings, the birthday of Hope.

Hallelujah!


3 Comments

Hi Larry!

My supervisor, who is a Christian, and one of my co-workers, who is agnostic, had a conversation about how Christmas has been watered down to this nebulous 'holiday' season. As I thought more about the conversation this morning on my way to work, I wondered what would happen the next time I was greeted "Happy Holidays!" by a store clerk, if I responded "What Holiday are we celebrating?"

I wonder if the reason there are so few details of the incarnation existing in scripture is because it is is so hard to wrap our heads around the idea that the creator of the universe chose to take on the vulnerability and helplessness of an infant? When you think about it, the desciples who spent three years living and interacting with the son of God could barely comprehend 'who' exactly walked amongst them until after the resurrection.

There are times when I try to imagine what my life would be like if God had not bridged that chasm between Him and me. Needless to say, a life of hope and purpose are unfathomnable without His presence in our lives and in our world.

Merry Christmas dear friend. May God reveal His Holiness and Glory to you in a deep and lasting way as you celebrate the birth of our dear savior.

-Norah

Hello Norah,

Thanks for your comment, and the years of friendship. You have been a blessing in my life.

However, since I can't agree with everything you say -- you would know it wasn't really me, right? -- I'll have to say the first generation of believers understood it all only after Pentecost, not the resurrection. But you're certainly right, the entire concept of the Incarnation is beyond what we can grasp without a lot of help.

Hi Larry,

No worries! You are always very gentle in correcting me. I couldn't remember the time-line of when the desciples were willing to die for their beliefs, but I agree with you about it being after Pentecost.

Blessings to you and your family! :-)

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  • Norah said:
      Hi Larry, No worries! You are always very gentle in correcting me. ...
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      Hello Norah, Thanks for your comment, and the years of friendship. Yo...
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      Hi Larry! My supervisor, who is a Christian, and one of my co-workers...

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