This year seems different. Not the childhood anticipation of Santa and gifts or the preparations of church and decorations in the hanging of the greens. This year as many of us look back to the preparation of Jesus birth it all feels much more profound. Remember Mary’s devotion and acceptance of God’s choosing her as the Holy Mother vessel for a Savior. Remember ancient telling of a coming King who will rule with love and justice. Remember wise men who read the stars to know something big is happening. Remember the working class poor in the fields with sheep who get the first birth announcement. Remember angels who say over and over, “Fear Not”. Remember a baby, born in a cattle feeding trough, homeless yet worshiped. Yes there is deeper meaning for me this year.
Looking back this hindsight view that we take every year, our traditions of celebration have become the focus of the season. Many have lamented the commercialized event of Christmas yet still the traditions are strong and who does not love to watch a child’s gleaming face on Christmas morning unwrapping gifts they requested from Santa. What an amazing miracle is uncovered as the empty milk and cookie crumbs next to the tree seem to prove the existence of this giver of gifts. My heart fills with love and joy as I look back on my own children’s Christmases in our home when they were young. And now my grandchildren carry the traditions forward. To me it all feels different.
Jesus was most likely born in March some historians say. Yes he has been proven to exist. It seems in our past 2000 plus years of history we have humanly tried to drink the milk and eat the cookies to prove to others that Jesus was and is the promised coming King. Our winter solstice Christmas celebration and hymns to the tunes of old pub songs lure the unfaithful to belief…or not. Because it’s just fun to celebrate and exchange gifts and for a few weeks be a bit kinder and happier than usual. To me it all is different.
This year, my heart longs, seriously and deeply longs to live in the presence of this amazing Divine Love. I am growing to know but will never fully understand the mystery and miracles of Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection. As I seek to be a student, disciple of this master teacher and experience glimpses of the amazing love and forgiveness he offers it changes how I live and to whom I live for. Because we all do get to live in the light of this love, the love of a parent who would sacrifice anything for their children. The love of a mother who gives birth in a homeless shelter with dirty smelly occupants who knows her child is Divine is the image of God’s love for us. The love of this same child who would grow to teach us and to pray for us. The love demonstrated 30 some years later in a giving up of himself for us.
We don’t really go there on Christmas that’s saved for Good Friday when we remember this sacrificial act of love. I have learned that Jesus died for our sins and what I now know is that he also was crucified because of our sins and to show us just how far God will go to love us. We in our human and ego driven ways get stuck in our rules, our traditions and what we think we know. God came down, Emmanuel, God with us to show us a more magnificent love, joy in poverty, escape as a refugee, healing compassion, and complete self-sacrifice to connect us forever with God in love. The cookies and milk are eaten now in the Bread and Cup of life and we are all invited to the table of Grace. We may experience this indwelling hope of love and peace no matter our situation in life. God with us in our pain of loss, suffering, sickness or poverty seeks to fill us with Love. This Christmas is different.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6
No matter how you celebrate this season may you experience the joy, hope, love and peace that is the promise of Christmas.