We are on the edge of Christmas, scrambling to finish last-minute shopping and wrapping, or maybe worrying about how things will go with family this year, or perhaps sad we won’t have a big Christmas, or wondering if this Christmas might be merry after all. Christmas brings up a lot of feelings for a lot of reasons, but when we turn to our faith rather than our culture to consider Christmas, we find cause to celebrate and we can rejoice!
Whether you come to one of our Christmas services or whether you are away with friends and family in another city, we will all celebrate the miracle that, long ago, God chose to join us in our lives. This is an ancient story, a story so often told that we might no longer feel wonder at it. But what a wonder it is! God chose to join us—here!—in our messy lives, in their dailiness and beauty, in our sorrow and the joy, our anger and peace, promising with that moment that we are never alone, that we can be certain that God understands our lives and dignifies each moment because it is God-breathed and God-known.
This is a Holy Time. It can be easy to be distracted now, by the busyness of the season, by things not turning out the way we had hoped. When I am feeling overwhelmed in this season, I remember the great wisdom of A Charlie Brown Christmas. After all his plans go awry, Charlie Brown cries out: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” And then Linus—he who always carries his security blanket—tells the Christmas story that we hear each year.
The lights go down, the spotlight shines on Linus as he tells the story from the Gospel of Luke: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not:”
Then Linus DROPS his security blanket, no longer in need of it, and continues, “for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”
After proclaiming that miraculous story, Linus says, simply, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Whether celebrating on your own or surrounded by loved ones, I hope you know the glory of God, that God has joined us for love of us, for love of YOU. Fear not. That’s what Christmas is all about.
P.S. And if you need some ragged joy on Christmas morning, listen to “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues, which I preached about on the Second Sunday of Advent.