by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
Christmas as a season may to some seem a lost cause. What energy is left after our typical frantic pre-Christmas festivities? Caught up in the nostalgia of the Christmas spirit, we try to make up for neglect and ineptitude, but in a couple of weeks the Christmas decorations put up before Thanksgiving in our malls will be torn down and little will have substantially changed. Nevertheless, Christmastide, best understood through the metaphor of birth – brings God to us in the midst of all our distortions.
Christmas is a time in the eternal cycle of things to celebrate the mystery of possibilities through the birth of a child. The birth of a child can be a joyful occasion and even if the child is healthy there can still be moments of anxiety. A child represents possibilities, but not certainty. All too often Christmas offers people nostalgia, an escape from the harsh realities of life, rather than the joy-filled experience of new possibilities – amidst the realities of personal life and world history. The Spirit of Christmas is not a drug to numb our senses but a moment to recall that with God everything is possible. During Advent we wait quietly in hope for dreams that grow dimmer with age. At Christmas we experience the eternal promise from God of new possibilities. We are re-born in our hearts and in our history, because of our faith that God has entered human history and become one with us – Emmanuel.
God comes to you and me each Christmas because God wants to join us on our journey so that we will never have to fear or feel lost in our wanderings, but always can trust that God walks with us as we move ever toward the realization of God’s vision.
The Gospel of John tried to capture the vision God has for this world of ours. As John would explain it, Christmas is a candle in the dark. Jesus was born in dark days; we live in dark days. But somehow in that darkness a little light has been kindled, and nothing has been able to extinguish it. Indeed, its flickering light makes it possible for us to see the outline of new life amidst the darkness of our own lives, to see the outline of a new tomorrow amidst the darkness of the world’s evil. And that flickering light, if we concentrate on it, provides us with all that is necessary for walking into the night. John’s point is very clear: we need to focus on the good. The problem of evil that most of us worry about is definitely the wrong problem. The really difficult problem isn’t why there is evil in the world, but why there isn’t more good in our lives and in the world. That small flicker of good is the Christmas mystery, the mystery of possibility that may grasp us if we don’t surrender to secular celebrations of Christmas.
Every Christmas, and every other day, Christ arrives moving silently without fanfare or trumpet, into the midst of life, yours and mine, in all of its everydayness and clutter and workaday concerns. The impossible possibility, God is always entering our lives and our world to deliver and to save us. The problem is in our perceiving; our faith is fragile. It needs to be refreshed; and so it is, each year through the mystery of Christmas. Have hope! Have a blessed Christmas.