Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Meaning of Christmas, One Week Out

A week ago, we'd have been celebrating Christmas.  This is the time of year when so many of us go into a funk as the twinkly lights disappear and the days don't seem to be growing noticeably longer and we face the stern reckoning of what the holidays have done to us in terms of our weight, our good habits, and our finances.

A week ago I posted pictures of the baby Jesus in the manger.  For too many of us, the story ends there.  We forget the true meaning of Christmas.

Jesus didn't come to be a cute baby in a manger.  If we stop with the cute baby in the manger, we've lost the story.  In his various Christmas homilies, our pastor reminded us that Jesus comes to live in our hearts and transform our lives so that we can be Christ to each other.

He gave us the example of the feeding program at First Lutheran which so many of us participate in.  Once a month, we take dinner to First Lutheran and serve anyone who shows up.  Our pastor reminded us that since we started participating, we've fed over 3000 people.

Some days it feels like we do so little.  We've been feeding people for over three years, and yet the problem hasn't been solved.  We might even say it's gotten worse.  We see the same people each time.  We feed them for a night, but we haven't solved the thorny issues of homelessness and hunger.

I must return to the Advent words of John the Baptist:  "I am not the Messiah."

The Christmas message is that God came into the world, born to a homeless couple who would soon become refugees.  The most grim of circumstances can be redeemed.  I don't have to know how it will happen.  Christmas tells me the great glad tidings that it will happen:  the redemption of creation is underway, in ways I can't possibly predict.

Return to the angel's message.  Don't give up hope, even as the dreary days of January drape across your spirits.

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