This Christmas season has been so significant for me, for so many reasons. I love the tradition of liturgical Christian churches which celebrate Christmastide, a season that lasts through January 5. Christmas isn’t over after December 25th, and just as its celebration can stretch into the new year, its significance stretches throughout our whole years as well.
I’ve read and reread this sermon by NT Wright this Christmas season, getting caught on these words:
“Unless we recognize a strange, dark strand running through the gospel, we will domesticate John’s masterpiece (just as we’re always in danger of domesticating Christmas), and think it’s only about comfort and joy, not also about incomprehension and rejection and darkness and denial and stopping the ears and judgment. Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything’s all right. John’s gospel isn’t about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying ‘Of course! Why didn’t we realize it before?’ It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations, and the darkness not comprehending it. It’s about God, God-as-a-little-child, speaking the word of truth, and nobody knowing what he’s talking about.”
“…By ourselves, none of us can. Jesus is born into a world where everyone is deaf and blind to him and what he’s saying; but some, in fear and trembling, allow his words to challenge, rescue, heal and transform them. That is what’s on offer at Christmas; not a better focused religion for those who already like that sort of thing, but a Word which is incomprehensible in our language, but which, when we learn to hear, understand and believe it, will transform our whole selves with its judgment and mercy.”
Christmas is not about just a blindly happy religion or a God come to tell us all is well, but a God coming INTO the mess and darkness, WITH us, and a God who STAYS put with us in the darkness. That is what makes it a wonderful Christmastide. Let’s spend the whole year trying to understand it and grasp what it means for us that God is WITH us, and resurface next Christmas in even more wonder and awe that unto us a Child is born.