Yesterday was Christmas. It was a lovely and yet humble day for us. Having resigned from my position as Sr. Minister at the church I served in Michigan, we recently moved back into our home in Los Angeles. The expenses of the move and the higher cost of living forced us to tighten our belts and curb our spending on gifts. I was courious how our children might react receiving gifts that the entire family would share (Pooper-scooper, mops, cleaning products, etc.).
In the wee hours of Christmas morn, I was surprised to find the same joy, enthusiasm, and giddiness among them all as we opened up beautifully wrapped towel racks and bottles of soy sauce. It was as if they were the PlayStation and designer shoes they'd been hinting at all year long. I don't know why I was so taken by their acceptance of this different Christmas. Could it be they understood or realized that Christmas is more than materialism, consumerism, or some other kind of "ism" that limits our understanding of what God intended with the great mystery of the incarnation?
As I watched and participated in this joyful morning, my mind began to wander about theology (hey, I am currently without church to preach my thoughts to.). Many great people have said far greater things than I could about the true meaning of Christmas.
For example: The Washing Post offers a wonderful story on what Christmas is in comparison to what our politicians and advertisers promise. It looks at president elect Trump and compares his words of promise to the words of God as understood by Pope Francis. (Read here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/12/24/pope-francis-is-waging-a-war-on-christmas-christians-should-join-him/?utm_term=.2d20065eeba5)
I was not so profound or eloquent. I posted this little bit on Facebook which continues to linger in my heart.
"If you have a baby, or been around them, you'd know babies scream; loudly and often. What kind of God would became incarnate in a small, helpless and vulnerable baby? A God who desires to scream when we scream; cry when we cry; laugh when we laugh; and love when we love. From heaven to be with us in hell...suffering in solidarity with us, for us and for no other reason."
Why Christmas? Because we all cry out to something, in pain, suffering, joy, giddiness, love, anger, fear, isolation, indignation, and so on. Yet there is God. Always present. Always there. Walking, crying, loving and giving with us. Christmas is a reminder of that great holy present that allows us to be fearlessly vulnerable. This gift might not be the sexy set of sensible and comfortable sheets I received yesterday, but the feeling is kinda the same. Perhaps my children have a blessed understanding of this feeling that took me a lifetime to realize. To realize this made my day. It was the best present they have ever gotten me.