The Untold Story of Christmas

Many of us love the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s give us about six weeks of gratitude, family, food, friends, and new beginnings. There is so much to celebrate. We love the crisp air (if we are lucky) and the time to reflect on the year that has past. We see people near and far giving sacrificially for others, volunteering for others, considering the needs of others. For many of us the holidays seem to overflow with blessing, reminders of our best selves and how God is indeed working in us and in our world.

For others of us, the holidays seem almost unbearable. Six weeks of frenetic living, overwhelming consumerism, family drama, and continued reminders of family and friends who are not at the table. Once again our paycheck ran out before the month did, family members aren’t speaking to each other, and there are so many little things we miss about our loved ones who are gone. For us, the holidays are some of the darkest times of the year, a reminder that God’s work in us and our world is far from complete.

Advent and Christmas are my favorite time of year. Advent is a time of waiting, hoping for God to intervene in a mighty way. As a hospital chaplain I find myself keenly aware that things are not right in myself and the world. While I am not the bearer of bad news in the hospital, I am often present when it comes. Rarely is someone glad to know the chaplain has come to visit. It is as though the chaplain symbolically reminds us of our vulnerability. This vulnerability was there all along but somehow in this moment, it is undeniable. We need a savior.

But the gift of Christmas doesn’t happen in the way we often anticipate. God didn’t swoop in and fix the world in an instant. Clearly. Listen to the ways we talk to, or to be honest, about one another. Look around as war dominates our lives, either abroad, in our city, our homes, or in our hearts. As Laurie, our Children’s Minister, has brought to our attention this month, slavery and human trafficking are still harsh realities in our world. Clearly God didn’t fix the world in an instant. No, God did the most unexpected thing. God entered our world as a vulnerable baby. God entered the darkness, in poverty, scandal and as a refugee in the midst of genocide. God didn’t swoop in with the news of “Cure” but with good news of “I am with you.” And that is the unexpected, often untold story of Christmas: that God joins us in the darkness, in the vulnerability, in the midst of our violent world and says, “I am with you.”

This holiday, whether it is seemingly full of blessing or reminders of God’s unfinished work, may you take comfort that God is with us, Emmanuel.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Created to Do Good Works - Andres Badillo

Responsibility, Ramadan and Prayer - Bob Bentley

The Big Question…”What On Earth Am I Here For?” - Ross Thomson

Out of My Comfort Zone - Judy Wilmoth

Power and Presence - Ross Thomson

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on the journeybaby dedication

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