Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Real Christmas

Every year we hear about how Christmas has become too commercial, about all the wrong things, and every year the evidence of it is all around us. The music starts playing on the radio and in the stores a day or two earlier every year, having long-since jumped Thanksgiving and pushing in on Halloween now, with Labor Day in its long-range plans, no doubt. Retailers place all their year-long fiscal hopes into that final burst of sales, politicians exploit it to fit whatever message they are trying sell, and the rest of us very often allow ourselves to get caught up in all the sentimentality we have come to associate with the season, still missing what the day means at its very simplest, undecorated core. And even when we are stripping away all the trimmings of the season, forming what we think is a more pure idea of the meaning of it all, we still so often miss the mark.
Christmas is not about a cheerful spirit. It is not about family. It is not about giving.

Not at its core, at least.

Instead, Christmas is about redemption. It is about each of us as individuals. It is about receiving.

Was the past year a difficult one, perhaps filled with loss or frustration, confusion or hurt? “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute…” sounds like a nice remedy for it all. Still, it will be as fleeting as the turning of a calendar page if all that Christmas means is to be of good cheer. Instead, there is the hope of The Child, born in the humblest of surroundings and circumstances, showing us that great things come from struggle, and that God does His greatest work in the most trying of times.
Don’t have the family pictured in a Norman Rockwell painting? That’s all right, because the Real Christmas is not about that. It is about the redemption granted to each one of us broken people in this broken world. There in The Child is the humility to forgive others, knowing we are all in need of mercy. There in The Child is the courage to accept forgiveness, helping us become more willing to forgive others. There in The Child is the strength to forgive ourselves, understanding that grace is the greatest of gifts…and there is more than enough to go around.

All the decorations and carols and gifts in the world will not fill the voids within us. But The Child will, bringing gifts of hope, redemption and faith, needing only open hearts and humble souls to make it so.



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