We live in a pretty holiday-heavy, Christmas-saturdated culture, don’t we?
December is filled with all types of “cheer” in North America.
At least, most years it is, right?
Gifts. Glitter. Trees. Turkey. Elf on the shelf.
I mean… sign me up for all of it. I truly love the holiday season.
Saint Nic. “Let it snow.” Mistletoe.
But really, why?
I think most people generally know Christmas has something to do with baby Jesus.
Except Jesus wasn’t even born on December 25th.
And why the extravagance to celebrate something that most people don’t really believe has any meaningful impact on us?
This Isn’t A History Lesson
This isn’t going to be an ancient history lesson on the origins of Christmas traditions, Roman winter solstice celebrations or scholarly estimates of Jesus’ actual date of birth. Although, those are all very interesting rabbit holes.
Our culture echos some truly lovely Christmas sentiments. About love and hope and peace and joy. Giving from the heart and goodwill to all.
And many of those are lovely. They really are.
But there is pain sitting still in the air like a fog this year. Do you sense it, too? Christmas – a time that can already be hard for so many – is harder.
Dare I write the 5 letter c-word? I’m so tired of that word.
On the heels of the most turbulent year in my lifetime, I wonder how much water the fluffy Christmas-culture sentiments will hold.
This year has not looked like generosity from the heart. Or good will to all.
A Christmas Paused
And our extravagant Christmas-culture is paused.
In its place, distance from one another. Discouragement. Loneliness. Worry. Frustration. Weariness.
Family tension over a difficult decision. Disagreements. Longing for a hug. Heartaches. Fear of the future. Grief.
The feelings of loss can ebb and flow like waves.
But there’s something else that’s different this year. We’re not all running from party to party, event to event, thing to thing.
There is a little more silent space in between our responsibilities, whether it be waiting on patients, tables or toddlers, right? Maybe your days are a blur of fast or a blur of boring, but is there more space for silence than usual?
What if – in this unprecedented holiday pause – there is space for something valuable, too?
A Christmas Captivating
There’s this old Christmas column, written by a journalist named Jim Bishop, that has always captivated me.
There was a man born of Jewish parents in an obscure village. He grew up in another obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30, and then for 3 years he was an itinerate preacher.
He never wrote a book, he never held office, he never owned a home, he never had a family, he never went to college, he never put his foot inside a big city, he never traveled 200 miles from the place where here was born.
He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness.
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away from him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had, his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
All the armies that have ever marched,
all of the navies that were ever built,
all of the parliaments that ever sat,
all of the kings that ever reigned, put together,
have not affected the life of man upon the earth as has this…
life.– Jim Bishop
Let that echo in your mind for a minute.
If time holds more space for you this Christmas, lean into this thought more than you normally would.
None have affected life of man upon the earth as has this? Really??
I understand many of us don’t actually follow Jesus or believe a lot of what he said.
Even still… Jesus’ life still ripples through the world we live in.
In fact, we have never lived in a world without the impact of Jesus’ life. We have never lived in a world without the impact of Christmas.
Christmas has come every year for millennia, through peace or war, through prosperity or depression, through freedom or oppression.
It may not look the same. But it always comes.
Because Christmas doesn’t come depending on our circumstances. Christmas comes transcending our circumstances.
That is only because of the answer to this one question.
Who is Jesus?
Sit with that question a little longer when you find quiet this Christmas.
Who is Jesus?
This, in my opinion, is not only the ultimate Christmas question but the ultimate question.
Who is Jesus…