Is everything ready?
Will it be perfect, everything set up, wrapped, prepared beautifully, ready for the big day?
Not even a chance.
But Christmas will come, whether I am ready or not.
I have a friend battling cancer right now. How do Christmas and chemo go together for her, I wonder? Another friend just had surgery… How does he celebrate if he doesn’t feel happiness?
Five of us have had the flu this month. If I counted the days of coughing and chamomile tea and missed class, even the health department would be impressed.
What about the hospitals and the Holy Land and Haiti? What of the sick and the dying and the fighting and the oppressed?
How can we celebrate Christmas, when the world is such a dark and painful place?
I think that’s what the songwriters miss when they pen their poetry about Silent Nights and Fa La La La La’s… Christmas has nothing to do with happiness and safety, the perfectly cleaned and decorated house or even well-fed visiting cousins.
It didn’t happen that way.
That one moment when Heaven touched Earth, and Jesus took his first breath, it didn’t happen in a perfect world on a perfect night, all wrapped up in a perfect bow. It was messy and dark and scary and crowded. Weary, displaced persons, wandering and searching for peace.
It was a dark and dreary world.
I’ve given birth enough times to know that Mary would not have chosen a drafty, faraway barn as the perfect place to deliver, among the cows and sheep. Yet that was what she got.
Nor, in the wee hours after her baby’s birth, did she probably want dozens of local shepherds popping in for a meet and greet. Doesn’t sound the least bit helpful.
And King Herod? Are you kidding? The slaughter of many Innocents because King Man wants your baby dead? How could that horror possibly be a chapter in a story of Hope?
And yet, this is how it happened.
In that darkness and pain, in the throng of crowds,
So if today, your world is not perfect… If you cannot find peace, or health, or joy…Do not despair.
He came to bring you Hope.
That is the real gift of Christmas! For you, for me.