In order to have a meaningful Christmas, my mother had us four children memorize the Christmas story from Luke 2 when I was about seven years old. We stood on the big platform in front of the crowded church and recited that long chapter from memory. Mom was proud. I was so scared I thought I was going to pee my little girl panties. Except for the fear of embarrassing myself in front of our church family, the simple story of the birth of Christ from Luke 2 wrapped me in the warmth of a perfect Christmas.
Childhood is a long ago memory for me. I’ve grown up and discovered that I live in a broken world. I can’t solve the problems of my life, let alone the problems of the homeless or the broken. In reality, the world seems too complicated for the simple story from Luke 2. So it was definitely a Holy Spirit nudge when my advent devotions connected with Henri Nouwen’s words this morning:
Somehow I realized that songs, music, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and many sweet words do not make Christmas. Christmas is saying “yes” to something beyond all emotions and feelings. Christmas is saying “yes” to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel.
Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine. Things will never look just right or feel just right. If they did, someone would be lying . . .. It is into this broken world that a child is born who is called Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, Savior.
The story is so simple, so crystal clear, so unpretentious. I do not have to do anything with it. I do not have to explain or examine these events. I simply have to step into them and allow them to surround me.
I like that–stepping into the story and allowing it to surround me. The story, of course, is bigger than Christmas. But at Christmas I remind myself that walking forward into the New Year, I walk with the One who is living the story through me. I can face a broken world once again.
What are you surrounding yourself with this Christmas? Is it making your Christmas meaningful? Why or why not?
Susan Gaddis, Helping you build your spiritual legacy