Christmas, the day we celebrate, some 2000 years ago when a baby was born who would carry the weight of the world on his back, born to give us grace that we could embrace.
Christmas has many meanings for people these days. For some it is over! The wrapping is put away, the gifts are now in the eye of the beholder, scattered about the house, holding a place of honor or maybe we are even trying to remember who they came from. It is about music that reminds us of days long ago when we were mesmerized by the glitter of the snow and the house filled with relatives, that we were supposed to know. It is a day that has been lost to the horrors of chaos, with tragedy of war and young children being lost to sounds of gunfire that now echo in all our souls at just how fragile life really is.
Last week I was talking with my mother, who shared she “has been feeling kind of blue.” She had gone shopping alone. She is 91. She shared she noticed tears were in her eyes as she was shopping, when out of nowhere she heard this tiny voice, “Hi Gramma.” She quickly brushed her tears away so they would not see she was crying. I asked her why she was worried if someone knew she was sad She said, “I have no reason to be sad. I have a lovely home to live in and I’m in relatively good health. What have I to be down about?” It was then I realized again why Christmas is so important and wonderful.
For those who believe Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our savior, it is a time filled with hope. It is a day when we remember that our greatest gift was born and a day we can embrace the grace again and again that the Christ child came to give us.
There is a good deal of real sadness this time of year. So let’s embrace that and stop trying to deny or pretend there isn’t. The grace to get through these trials we face is as present as the sadness we deny. God knows you are hurting, that the world, through our own fault, is in crisis. God knows that when we have lost a loved one in death that it is hard to celebrate anything. Grief is real, a part of our lives on this very human journey. When it comes down to it, God’s grace is often revealed to us through another person. For my mother it was the voice of a great-grandchild that lifted the loneliness in her heart. For a patient lying sick in the hospital it is often the smile and gentle touch of their nurse. For the young student struggling with peer pressure it can be an understanding parent coming along side with wisdom or a teacher or counselor who offers encouragement to keep moving forward. For the first responders of crisis it is the simple thank-you hug that makes them able to respond again.
Christmas really hasn’t changed all that much in 2,000 years. People were on the move from country to country then. Transportation was tedious at best. Accommodations weren’t all that luxurious, even the stables were overcrowded. And yet there in the night a baby was born that gave new meaning to light, even the stars shown brighter and God provided grace that we as humans could embrace. Grace became personified that day in the manger. The same holds true for us today; God is present among us and for each one of us. Look around, into each other’s face, and embrace the grace that God surrounds each of us with today and always.