Have you noticed that it’s often New Year before you realize that your Christmas was not what you wanted? Year upon year, you pour hopes and expectations into a day that does not deliver. What was meant to be a celebration, somehow left you feeling emptier than before, no matter how much you tried to fill your stomach, your stockings, or your soul.
Christmas is a time of the light, but it has its shadows. In this season I will explore these shadows with you, not in despair, but in discovery mode.
So your Christmas might have been a time of hospitality, when the feeling was welcome and warmth. Instead, old rejections surfaced, along with a sense that all the work was not worth it, and those who were supposed to be grateful were complacent or blasé.
Worse, for some reading this piece, Christmas served up a revelation of hostility, designed to destroy rather than develop relationships.
But for the majority of you, my guess is that you get to New Year with a vague sense of missing the point, or wistful wondering why the season left you anything but satisfied.
These are the shadows, they dance around issues of hospitality, hostility, and sadness, forming a circle of disappointment. It’s the world of might-have-been’s.
And it’s neither new nor modern. Beside a busy inn, the major activity was hospitality. Frenetic attempts to accommodate the whims and needs of the influx of demanding customers, combined with serious moneymaking.
Miles away, in Jerusalem, an angry, insecure ruler raged at the thought of the new born boy threatening his position.
For most, the season passed them by. There was massive activity that year across the country, but in the end, the leftover feeling was displacement and inconvenience.
These were the early Christmas shadow-dancers: the innkeeper, Herod, and the crowd. Living but not realizing the light was right there.
Christmas is an effort, but I want to suggest that the effort could be directed towards awareness. Awareness that the primary object of your hospitality could be the Son himself.
Perhaps the hostility could be replaced by humility, bowing down, worshipping, rather than posturing for position.
Could it happen that energy be sourced from the living light, designed to wake us up to what really matters?
Is it not time to recognize the shadows, rather than pretend they don’t exist? Then, having recognized them, learn from the innkeeper, the ruler, the crowd, that the season will be lighter when our worlds revolve around the Son.
I don’t know how to arrange a good Christmas, but I think I know that a good Christmas should be arranged around him, not the shadows.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
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