Christmas and me

24 Dec

This Christmas, I have been grateful. And yet, in so many ways, far from grateful. I’ve let Christmas be about family, pleasure in little things, the excitement of loved ones, food, comfort, little proofs of God, miracles – for me. Even though I’ve always been careful to remember and hold with excitement the knowledge that Christmas means God wanted and continues to want to be with us, with our humanity, with our messy hands and feet that need to be dusted. That God is still so norm-defiantly in love with us that wonderful is now the new normal. The supernatural, the ridiculously amazing, the proof of passion everyday has become…normal.

Instead, I’ve wept about the little things. I’ve worried about social disappointments, let frustration creep in, let myself feel definitely uncelebratory dragging my feet across unwilling malls and price tags. How very far from worshiping at a silent stable! I have cried because I haven’t had the – ugh – good things. Oh, I’ve had goodness and joy and peace and love… Oh, that, yes. But you know those little home comforts? The things that being away from family bring home to you because they simply rather smell of home? I’ve missed that.

I’ve missed getting into the car. Driving to my parents. Laying my head on my mother’s lap because it’s the holidays and one can do that and watching soppy Christmas movies. Interrupted always by caroling or carolers, food, family, phone calls and the dogs. Sure, and frustration.

But what I’m saying is this: None of these things have been somehow insidious in themselves. None of them are bad.

All of them top my list or do very nearly of ‘Biggest Blessings in my Life’. But I’ve forgotten to hold fast to the joy of Christmas. The joy that in the midst of big blessings, I usually have to remind myself, comes not from them but from knowing Him.

And then, I remember why my hart pounds sometimes. I just get excited all over again about God telling us who he is, suddenly to a waiting and close-minded world. I get excited about the raw vulnerability God takes on. The passionate courtship of his church. A relentless courtship. The redemption plan. The vulnerability of an open stable and a tender infant to that of a torn veil and a broken body. Openness. Throughout.

And you sometimes dare to breathe in the wonder. Because this is God.

And in my head, the angels are gone. There are no trumpets. There is only stillness.

And the memory of a baby, the inhabiting of a stench-filled cattle trough, of midnight travel and excited story-telling, of long-distance communication, of people hearing angel song. And instead of the hosts, there is a still small voice. Of just one. Who followed through the beauty and bitterness of coming to get me, whatever the cost.

Not the memory any more but the whispered peace, the offering of a broken hallelujah and the assurance of a God who roars with love.

I love Christmas because he didn’t stop. I know I belong.

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