The celebration of Christmas is not just about the hope and promise that the world will be made whole. It’s not just about God coming so “everyone else” can receive new life. Christmas is about acknowledging the brokenness in your own life, and the promise of God in Christ to make you whole, to give you hope, to give you new life.
Why do people say politics and religion shouldn’t mix? Even our favorite Christmas hymns mix politics into the birth story of Christ. Proclaiming God’s gift of peace in Christ is politically motivating, and it calls us to a greater understanding of the joy we proclaim when we sing, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!”
The promise and invitation of the Magnificat is to trust in the promise of God that is proclaimed in the birth of Christ. It is a song that declares that in the Incarnation, God is humbling the proud, and lifting up the lowly; God is supporting the weak, and weakening the strong; God is breaking down barriers, and building up community. And the Word In-Fleshed comes to invite us to participate in this, God’s work.
The Advent and Christmas Seasons are simply the best because the music is the best. The music is built upon a message of hope, promised in the gift of Christ. “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is a hymn that reminds us of that promise, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
“Mary Did you Know” is a horrible song, which assumes that this pre-teen unwed pregnant female couldn’t have possible been intelligent enough to know about the child she carried. But in her own words, Mary makes clear, she knows the goodness of God that will come from the baby boy, who will one day save the nations.
Max (the dog) and Joseph have a similar reaction to the invitation to be involved, a strong and resounding “no.” But when Immanuel, God with us, invades the messiness of our lives, our response quickly becomes one of faithfulness, not fear.
The Grinch saw the Whos down in Who-Ville decorating, singing, and cooking, but thought their merriment was a sham. Perhaps we should question our own nonsensical over-indulgence in the season.
Jesus is God’s material gift to humanity even still today. What if we used this giving model for our giving to others at Christmas?
If we cannot identify ourselves as wilderness people, we will have a hard time understanding the context of Advent. The advent of Christ is to bring good news to the poor, release captives from slavery to sin and death. If we can’t claim our own wilderness, perhaps we should align ourselves with those in the wilderness.
In this season of Advent, we may want to question if we have put too much attention toward the temporary and seasonal gifts, bows, trees, parties, and lights. But perhaps getting rid of them is not the most faithful way.