In the midst of multi-coloured Christmas lights on every neighbourhood street, he loves you. In the midst of Jim Carey’s ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’, he loves you. In the midst of red-nosed Rudolph and the Christmas elves, he loves you. In the midst of desperate Ski Hill ‘Prayers for Snow’, he loves you.
In the midst of turkey dinners on a family night, he cares for you. In the midst of stocked stockings hanging by a roaring fire, he cares for you. In the midst of frost on a snowy window, he cares for you. In the midst of carolers singing at your doorstep, he cares for you.
In the midst of Scout Christmas tree sales, he watches over you. In the midst of Christmas pageants and winter fests, he watches over you. In the midst of shopping centre santas and boxing day sales, he watches over you. In the midst of early-morning presents and sleepless children, he watches over you.
It is so easy to be cynical as Christmas rolls around. Most of us long to get back to the real meaning of Christmas. Most of us are tired of the endless commercialization that seems to swallow us every December. I wonder if Jesus realized how much work and expense would spring from his being born over 2,000 years ago! My hunch is that he never intended that his annual birthday party on December 25th should become so complicated and wearisome. The first Christmas ‘away in a manger, no crib for a bed’ was a very simple affair indeed. Just baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and a few animals for company.
It is impossible to think about Christmas without pictures of angels and shepherds. Many of us fondly remember dressing up as children in such getups. Our parents would get out their cameras and make a fuss over us in front of our relatives and neighbours.
Christmas morning was always very exciting. Waiting for Christmas morning to finally appear seemed to take an eternity. I remember ripping open the carefully wrapped presents with joyful abandonment. I remember feasting on the delicious turkey dinners and hot apple pies. I remember my grandparents gathering around the dining room table, telling curious stories about long-dead relatives. Each Christmas I went to the 5, 10 and 25 Cent store to buy my grandparents their traditional pencils and socks.
In the midst of mistletoe, tinsel, stuffing, cards, and mince meat pies, I loved Christmas. But I didn’t love the reason for the season. In the midst of the world’s most fun birthday party, I forgot to invite the birthday boy. In the midst of family and togetherness, I forgot about the love that emanates from the Christmas manger. Jesus, despite my being raised in church, just wasn’t on my ‘radar screen’. Somehow he didn’t belong in Christmas, despite the fact that even the name Christmas spelled his name.
My prayer this Christmas for those reading this article is that the birthday boy of Christmas will once again be welcome at his own party.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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