A cold winter chill has settled into our little spot on the earth. Snow covers the ground and the temperatures are a bone-chilling cold. For those of us in the northern hemisphere winter and Christmas go hand in hand. Even the songs tell us to wish for a white Christmas.
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 can’t be romantic for everyone. Some have to work in it. Some even have to sleep in it. And some wonder how they will stay warm when there’s no money to pay the gas bill.
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 physical realities of time and disease. 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 has come among us. God has inaugurated a new kingdom. So, in spite of the hurt we might be bearing, there is hope. The immaculately conceived Christ-child is conceived also in us so that we might be the agents of the kingdom for the whole world.
If Christmas cannot be merry for you, may it bring blessing and hope.