I’m considering changing all of my decorations to blue. Take them outside and just spray paint the lot of them. Why? Well, because the biggest mistake we are making about Christmas is that it is intended to be an idyllic-better-homes-and-gardens-greed-fest. There you go. I’ve lived 56 years and spent 11 years as a pastor. I’ve seen really great Christmases when everything was perfect…wait, that’s a lie. I remember really great Christmases but that’s only in memory.
I have four kids so there were years of “Santa” and the joy of little ones. But some of those included stomach viruses, chicken pox, ear infections and they all included grumpy, over-stretched adults and children. When Christmas is about food and gifts and feeling “joyous” we all do as much pretending and anticipating as we do realitying. (I made up that word. It makes “reality” into a verb. Don’t tell my English teachers unless you mention that I now know my parts of speech.)
So here’s where I am now with this whole “blue” thing. Mary, young, troubled, anxious, can’t-sleep-for-worrying-Mary, is my Christmas model. Not Santa. Not Jesus. Not even God. Mary. Because Christmas came into Mary’s difficulty. No rest. No plans realized. No happy-slappy-buffet. A young woman and her husband (not the father of her child), an oppressed group in an ego-maniacal culture. Pregnant at the risk of her life. And giving birth is scary no matter how many haloes are on your head. Labor is painful no matter how good at it you are. Delivery is messy. New babies are hard to deal with. Unstable governments with tyrannical rulers are devastating. New marriages are hard to negotiate. So Mary is my model in her earthly-awful-situation.
Into that darkness of fear, came God incarnate, Jesus.
Christmas isn’t about lights and food and gifts. Christmas isn’t mainly for the happy and content. This holiday-santa thing is…but not Christmas.
Christmas is light in the darkness. Mary’s darkness. My darkness. Your darkness.
Christmas is for the broken hearted; for the ones who can’t get off the couch. Christmas is for the disappointed; whose only question is “what happened?” Christmas is for the lonely; the ones who need only one plate for Christmas dinner. Christmas is for those with empty chairs and broken dreams.
And Christmas changes everything. Whether I can sing “Rudolph” doesn’t matter. Whether I can sing and know in my heart that this night means, “Joy to the World”, my dark world…that matters. In that truth there is a deeper joy than wrapping and bows and ham and mashed potatoes. There is joy deeper than the people in the chairs around the table. There is joy deeper than my human heart can imagine.
Joy is Christ…God present in my human life. Joy is a light in the darkness…the darkness of our world and our real lives.
The LIGHT came into the world, Jesus, Christmas…and the darkness will not, can not ever over come it.
Sharing the LIGHT!