At least thatís what we hear when we binge-watch too many
Hallmark Channel holiday movies. You know the ones Iím talking
about, right? It all starts with a mismatched couple in a doomed
relationship. As the plot unfolds a new love interest appears and a
whirlwind romance ensues often involving a visit to a tree lot or an
ice skating rink or a magical sage-like Santa Claus. About an hour
and a half into the two hour presentation a complication arises that
threatens to derail any hope for lasting happiness. But, thanks to
creative script-writers, the difficulty is somehow overcome and they
reunite, kiss, and commence their happily ever after as the
Christmas snow falls and the credits roll. The actors, characters,
and a few of the details change, but apart from that most of these
shows are cut from the same Christmas cookie cutter.
Lest I be unfairly labeled a cynic or Scrooge, I must confess that
my wife and I enjoy these sappy sweet tales. They can be a welcome
escape from the brutality of life. But it seems lately that the
brutality is winning. Just a couple of days ago it was a mass
shooting in San Bernardino. Last month a terror strike in Paris
inspired people to fly the colors of the French flag on their
Facebook profiles. A few years ago it was scenes of the bodies of
children being removed from Sandy Hook Elementary School. This
never-ending succession of violence leads me to believe that by the
time you are reading these words some new tragedy will have bumped
California from the spotlight. I hate to say we are growing numb,
but Iím afraid we canít keep up emotionally with the pace of the
atrocities. There donít seem to be enough tears to go around.
And if these acts arenít tragic and senseless enough life has been
brutal in another way for some people who are very close to my
heart. Just days ago I sat in a crowded overflow seating area at a
funeral service for a young man so dearly loved that there was
hardly enough room for the hundreds who came to honor his life and
mourn his loss. The voice of Andy Williams on the radio keeps
ringing out, ďItís the most wonderful time of the year.Ē How can it
be when death seems to be surrounding us, winning the day, reigning
over all the earth?
We must remember that Christmas is much more than a feel-good
Hallmark holiday. Christmas is a season of great contrasts, ironies,
and paradoxes. I hope you will pause to think about what really
makes this season the most wonder-filled time of the year. Here are
a few of my favorite ponderables:
God, Creator of all
things, creating Himself, folding His eternal self into an embryo in
the womb of a virgin peasant girl.
Omnipotent God, Almighty and not dependent on anyone or anything,
making Himself helpless and utterly dependent as a human baby.
The King who has always, is now, and will forever reign over every
other king being born in the shadows, sleeping in a feed trough.
Shepherds, socially considered the lowest class of their place,
people, and time, being invited to the most royal birthday party
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Angels, armies of
terror-inspiring spirit warriors, laying aside their weapons of war
invading the earth to sing about peace from heaven, from God
Godís own people, missing the signs of His arrival, but foreign
astrologers so convinced that history was about change that they
made a treacherous pilgrimage to bring honor to the infant monarch.
The joy of Jesusí birth and the tears of other Bethlehem mothers
deprived of their baby boys by the madness of a jealous king who
ordered their execution.
The Light of the world entering our
Let this enigma grip your heart:
Whatever may happen in this dark place His light has appeared. Light
that reveals our own personal darkness. Light that heals our souls.
Light that teaches us truth. Light that beckons us to follow in His
footsteps. Light that will lead us home.
At Christmas we remember that whatever may come
God is with us. And
thatís what makes it the
most wonderful time of the year.