December 10, 2020
Happy Thursday, Forever Family…
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, or so the Andy Williams' song goes. The sound bites on KLOVE and Sirius radio keep reminding me that this is the season of celebrating with family around a Christmas tree filled with gifts, parties filled with friends and fun, and unique moments of enchantment and joy therein.
But then there’s the truth of the matter family members argue or choose to stay away altogether. Parties take place with friends, yet loneliness persists. Maybe National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is closer to our reality. “Christmas joy” is elusive and very soon, the season itself will be a blur in our rearview mirrors.
In our Advent series, “Not a Silent Night”, I’ve been trying to share the honest truth about a teenage mom who was the birth mother of the Son of God. As good as this opportunity sounds, it was not all one might expect it to be. Mary’s life was anything but “silent”. The worry and anxiety about her son seemed ever present. Questions must have abounded throughout her life, from the shepherd’s arrival at the manger, to Jesus in the Temple at 12 years old, to Him over turning the moneychanger’s tables on Palm Sunday. Then there was always that prophecy of old Simeon, that “piercing of her soul”.
For many, their Christmas reality overshadows the preaching of hope, love, joy, and peace that Christ's first coming is supposed to bring. Often our present experiences can feel far removed from what is hoped for or expected. Sadly, Advent preaching and teaching, which is meant to encourage and build up one’s faith, can cause some to question the real value of Christmas. Their struggles and pain during the Christmas season remain. Could the gap between our expectations of Christmas and the reality of what actually happens cause us to miss much of what the season is about?
We must return to the biblical story; absent is the commercialized Christmas, the celebrations, the decorations, the gathering and the gift giving. Again, Mary must have had mixed feelings. She sang a beautiful song of praise in Luke 1, yet laid her baby in a feeding trough. Old Simeon proclaimed the good news of Jesus as Savior, the “Light to reveal God to the world”. That was followed by sobering news, “Many in Israel would rise and fall due to this Child and many would oppose Him.” Then there was the Magi, travelling thousands of miles bearing expensive gifts for the new king of Israel, only to find him in a simple, non-descript home of a struggling carpenter.
All of this goes to say, that the very first Christmas provided more than a few disappointing moments. This event that changed the course of history, was lowlier than it was stellar. The reality of the actual biblical events is the measuring rod for us today. Not the radio sound bites, the slick advertising, the sentimental TV commercials, the Hallmark movies, or even the joys of Christmases past.
So let’s begin there at the first Christmas, where we find the source of hope, love, joy, and peace. A humble teenage mom and a faithful god-fearing husband. Both are part of a heavenly narrative that is less than we had hoped for. A narrative that falls short of what we expect Christmas to be in today’s world. But we have the story as God would have it and therein lies all we need to celebrate. My prayer is that even in the midst of some seasonal disappointment, the Christ of Christmas touches your heart and brings you closer to the truth of the story.
Download the Church Center App. You can find the “How to Download” video on the church webpage. Check the website for details about our Holiday Backpacks for CASA children. Pick up your Advent Devotionals at the office. Call first (257-2924), as the office remains closed for drop in visits. Secret Sisters, please call the office, as we have brought all the gifts/cards from Numa to Lassen St. You can also leave a card or gift at Lassen St. for your Secret Sister.
SEE YOU SUNDAY!