Autumn has given away to Winter as we experienced the first snow last week. It won’t be long until hunting season is over and the cold temperatures set in. Unlike my neighbors, we have not taken advantage of the somewhat warm temperatures to prepare for one of the highlights of this season, Christmas. For those of us in the north winter and Christmas go hand in hand. Even the songs tell us to wish for a white Christmas. Though after living in Texas, I realize Christ’s Christmas would have been anything but white.
It’s easy to romanticize the cold of winter while sitting next to the fire with a soothing cup of hot chocolate. But the cold and snow are not romantic for everyone. Some have to work in it. Some even have to sleep in it. And for others it represents the change of traditions, of rituals because the change in landscape of our lives.
On the one hand. . .on the other hand. Life is always a little like that. The good and the bad. The romantic and the reality. The pain and the relief. The sorrow and the celebration. The light and the darkness. The manger and the cross. The cross and the empty tomb.
We are vulnerable creatures, subject to the realities of our lives. While some families celebrate coming together for Christmas, some know the acute pain of separation. Our Advent and Christmas observances are somehow of one piece, one complete woven fabric, with Good Friday and Easter. The manger is never very far from the cross. And the cross is seen in it’s fullness when we can also see in the three-day distance the empty tomb.
Christmas begins the story of God taking on our vulnerability, our pain, our sorrows, our joys, and our celebrations. The Word becoming flesh is God’s commitment to the inherent vulnerability of humanity, God’s commitment to the entirety of what it means to be human. The death of the Son of God is one location of that commitment. But so is womb of Mary, the stable, and the manger. This is what God chose. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The habitation of God with us brings us a life that is real life and a kingdom that is love and peace and freedom.
Regardless of how much things appear to be corrupt, corrosive, cruel, and confusing, there is another reality at work. God once again but in a different way has come among us. With that, God brings forth a new kingdom. A kingdom always focused on the four tenets of Advent, faith, hope, peace and joy. The immaculately conceived Christ-child is conceived also in us so that we might be the ones who bring forth these attributes of God into our daily lives.
Whether or not Christmas is merry for you, may it bring blessing and hope.
Advent and Christmas Blessings,