Christmas Means...

by Linda Bertsche

"And Joseph lifted (Jesus) up for her to see. And they looked upon him together and marveled...And when he squirmed in Joseph's arms and uttered his first cry, the thrill of all mankind ran through both of them, for this was life, human life, and they knew that a miracle had been achieved." (Two from Galilee/M. Holmes) Last year Jim and I indulged by spending a couple of nights at the Greenbriar just before Christmas. One of the inn's main displays was a 100 % edible Chocolate Christmas display crafted for "2019 Christmas" by their "exec pastry chef". Their placard claimed that four pastry chefs spent over two months sculpting 1000 pounds of dark chocolate into gift boxes, ornaments, a life size nutcracker, a 300-pound chimney, a Christmas tree, a sleigh... and on it went. Unfortunately, I deleted the photo, saving only its description. This time-consuming display was only one of many in this immaculately decorated inn; no effort was spared on making things " look like Christmas." I do not deny that I was entertained, even awed by the results of the hours the hotel dedicated to "create" a Christmas ambiance for us, their guests. This Christmas, I think of Mary and Joseph's roles in "creating" the original Christmas. Marjorie Holmes, the author quoted above, imagines the back story of a young Mary caught up in labor as Joseph desperately pleas for any room in any inn in Bethlehem. He is ultimately directed to a cave, complete with donkeys, and they settle into an empty stall, and onto hay, the ultimate birthplace of Jesus. There were no hours of preparation dedicated to the creation of beauty here. Nor was there attention to curbside appeal. Yet the Awe of this miracle is unmistakable; THIS awe is at the heart of the event we call Christmas. The culture we have nurtured to celebrate Christmas has morphed into many time-consuming traditions, even meaningless entrapments that can cloud our focus. These traditions can lack joy and certainly be void of awe. The awe in the event of Jesus' humble birth, the appearance of angels and those who followed the star is timelessly available to each of us- no matter our environment or setting. So I close with the challenge that our emphasis this Christmas is up to us; where we choose to see and find Awe is up to us. Merry Christmas!

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