I suppose the most obvious answer is because of all the presents we look forward to give and receive! Let’s be realistic. I realize it should be about Jesus and our commitment to follow His way of life, but is it really? Is Jesus our top priority, our deepest conviction and our reason for living? Do we search the Scripture daily and devour his words and teaching, or do we search the newspaper circulars, searching for the best deals and find new things we didn’t even know we had to have until now?
We live in a Santa Culture where everyone believes they are basically ‘good’ and will get whatever they want in the end. So we take the messiness of the nativity scene and sanitize it, sell it and look upon it from a distance, separate and detached. We have become observers of Christmas, rather than seekers and servants. No wonder people are finding church and religion empty.
The reason I love Christmas so much is that the real Christmas story is far more disturbing, hopeful and empowering to the human story. It is the story of God using ordinary people to redefine what it means to be human. It’s that powerful!
In Mary’s story we face unexpected expectations. Her disorienting news is accompanied with anticipation when she hears, “You will bear a child.” When Joseph receives the news, he is understandably shaken, struggling with love and loyalty versus fear, shame and despair. There’s no going back, no half-hearted disciples, no what’s in it for me. Their faith in God is total. Finally, with the birth of Jesus, the story explodes and unfold in ways that will reshape the world.
As we encounter the season of Advent and Christmas, I invite you to enter into the human drama already at play in your own life. Our own stories are not so different from Mary and Joseph, shepherds and innkeepers as we experience surprise, expectation, fear, joy, shame, anticipation and finally wonder every day. There is so much of the Christmas story that touches our lives in the here and now. I pray that we are drawn to prayer beside the nativity, to join angels in their triumphant song, and then to peer into the eyes of God becoming flesh and find the Prince of Peace.