We're all very proud of her.
Even with all of this joy and Christmas cheer I have to come back to Earth. I am reminded Matthew's version of the "Christmas story" is not cute nor cudly. It includes the slaughter of innocent children by a paranoid tyrant named Herod the great. The "good news about Jesus" never ignores the fact evil exists in our world. The baby born 2,000 years ago was born in poverty, shame, and under political oppression. He did not come to give us a cute story designed to leave us feeling warm and tingly all over once a year.
His coming reminds us God is concerned about things like pain, injustice, and evil. The circumstances surrounding his birth and his ultimate mission to face death on a cross keeps our feet squarely planted in reality. His coming reminds us we are called to face reality and to react with God's mercy, compassion and justice.
Today is just a few days before Christmas.
Today I officiated the funeral of the mom of a teenager and pre-teen. She was an incredibly sweet lady nearly ten years my junior. Her death was completely unexpected and tragic. There was no Christmas miracle for this family; no one singing "joy to the world" for them.
There are no warm and fuzzy feelings.
There is just cold, raw pain.
Today if there is to be any Christmas miracle, it will occur through the compassion of God's people. The miracle of Christmas is this: Jesus created a world-wide movement to set the world to rights and to give hope and light to a world darkened by sin, death, pain, and suffering. The people of God living under the rule of the resurrected Messiah, by the power of Spirit to demonstrate the love and mercy of God: that is the Christmas miracle.
And it's up to us to be open to God's calling to service.
So as you reflect on the birth of Christ ask yourself these questions: Is Christmas time just a bit of winter vacation? Is the birth of Jesus just an excuse to give and receive material goods to our close friends and relatives? Or does Christmas call me to renew my commitment to be a gift of God to the world? Does Christmas remind me the world is still a dark place that needs light and love? Does Christmas increase my resolve to reflect the image of Christ in a world that desperately needs hope?
Just a thought to ponder.
God bless you and Merry Christmas.