A scholar of some brilliance and complexity is the one who put it with stunning simplicity. What he said was: “We need Christmas. We need it so deeply, so desperately…” And I couldn’t agree more.
Given all the turmoil in our lives and nation and world we deeply and desperately need its wild proclamation of hope, its stunning proclamation of the impossible things God can do. Christmas proclaims the power of God to work the transformation of all things, that a miracle is still possible, that God is with us still. And that’s why we need Christmas: because it enables us to lift up our heads with hope and see again the wonder of what God can do.
And we need it to keep before us a vision of what we can be at our best as people. Fear and suspicion and prejudice still rule our hearts far too much. But here and there at Christmas, you see people being human one to the other, putting aside their fears, transformed for a moment by a miracle of love and care. And what a difference it makes in our lives! What a difference people at their best makes: giving of themselves, helping in whatever way they can, coming together in spite of differences. And how we need that!
We need Christmas to remind us how much kindness and graciousness matter. There can be such anger in people, such coldness and cruelty, especially among Christians! Why such words of judgment and threat, even hatred? We need Christmas to call people out of themselves, out of their great preoccupation with themselves — to call people to the kindness and graciousness that gives life and hope.
And we need it because it helps us feel. It’s hard not to go numb in a world like ours. But we must keep feeling, especially for those we often forget — the hungry or homeless, the children caught in the grip of poverty, those who are ill or lonely, those ravaged by war and violence. We need Christmas to keep transforming our hearts, to keep putting within us hearts capable of breaking and filled with compassion. This too is hope.
And we need Christmas because we need to know joy. The best we can manage on our own is a little happiness now and then — when everyone cooperates, does what we want, and everything goes the way we want. Often you see such unhappiness in people, such sadness. But Christmas proclaims an enduring joy — the joy that only God can give,
the joy of God’s enduring presence and love in Christ which can heal and transform us.
We need Christmas deeply and desperately. We need to have its stunning proclamation and gaudy promises, and to put candles in the windows and string lights on trees and set out decorations and sing the carols and hear the music. We need its beauty and wonder and the miracles and surprise of gifts given and received. Most of all, we need Him who was born at Bethlehem and the coming to birth again of hope, kindness, love, miracle, and joy, great joy!
God be with you,