We are the Christmas people.
Fresh off the election season, I am suddenly eager to pour myself into the Christmas celebration.
I’m under no illusion that Jesus requires me to celebrate Christmas to any particular specifications (or at all), just as I am sure that He would endorse neither Presidential candidate. I do believe He’s given me the liberty to both celebrate the holidays and participate in the politics of this land while honoring Him from my heart and my actions the best I can discern, with prayer and careful intentions.
So here we go then. I’m a Christian facing the fact that my nation is led by someone I consider to be an abominable example of human conduct. As post-election days unfold, ugly tales of violence and hateful comments against non-white citizens are bubbling to surface, boiling over from dangerous rhetoric heated and salted during the campaign.
My heart hurts, it’s bleeding under my skin, bruising me through and through for people I love who are feeling unsafe; for people I don’t know, who are feeling unheard and unseen; for the brokenness that is so clearly present in the country I love.
Not sure that I’ve ever been proud to be an American (I did nothing to make myself so), but I’ve always been grateful. Now, I am just so sad.
Then right after the second Tuesday in November comes the holiday season. First we celebrate Thanksgiving. Next, we will celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is maligned for the materialism associated that our culture eagerly engages in, starting with Christmas shopping commercials in September. Many people object if a Christmas song tickles the eardrums a moment before Black Friday dawns.
But this year, this 2016 year, the election year — oh please, let the hope of Christmas flood all my senses. The sooner the better.
This year, can we be Christmas people?
We think about each other, asking, “what would he want? what can I get her? what can I give that would surprise and delight?”
We plan and prepare. We anticipate the joy of our loved ones, and drive ourselves to distraction concocting a plan to outdo our love for them each year.
Or, at least that’s how I do it.
We believe it is better to give than to receive.
We wrap with paper and ribbons and arms around precious ones.
We sleep expectantly, and we awake. The falling asleep and the waking up is one of the most narrated and magical acts of Christmas.
Let’s wake up early now, okay?
We open boxes and doors and living rooms and dining tables. We add extra leaves and chairs. Everyone gets a seat at the table.
Everyone gets a seat at the table.
When it gets dark, when the nights are the longest and coldest, we keep lights burning. We don’t do it just plainly, we do it with finesse and with playful imaginations. We shine it out into the wild and icy outdoors with rainbow colors. We let it twinkle.
We are patient with each other’s idiosyncrasies.
We are grateful for each other and speak in ways we forgot to throughout the year.
We reset, we feed one another, we sip warmth together, then we sleep again. We wake up in the morning and we embrace going back to normal as we clean up the mess that celebration leaves in its wake and we think…
Is it really already over? What part of this can we carry with us all year?
All of this to remember that our hope is wrapped up in Life. One new Life.
We celebrate it over and over. We wait expectantly for new life that is wide enough to share some part with every person, and a celebration that never gets old and doesn’t stop, doesn’t hurt anyone, puts everyone else first.
So let’s love without hypocrisy.
Let’s detest what is evil, while we cling onto what is good.
Let’s love each other like family.
Why not consider how to outdo one another in showing honor?
Let’s share with one another in need, and pursue hospitality together.
We are people who will bless everyone, not curse anyone.
As far as it depends on us, we will live at peace on earth with everyone else.
Oh yeah, and we’ll leave room for God’s wrath, He will repay with His vengeance. We’ll leave that to Him. To surprise and delight.
(Romans 12:9-19, paraphrase mine)