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Christmas: Did We Miss It?

Dr. RB McFee

 

 

 

 

“For God, Who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His Light shine in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the Face of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

 

Christmas tea is brewing, Christmas music is playing, my Christmas shirt lights are twinkling, as is my Christmas tree, and I’m manically sorting visions of sugarplums and ideas about this article, all of which are dancing in my head.

 

Approaching the 11th hour I was beginning to feel like Santa that foggy night when Rudolph went off to rumble with a Bumble. My Christmas article is usually a favorite, and among the easiest for me to write. This year was a major exception. I wasn’t sure why. Checks were almost all written for charities. The tree was up. “Taking care of Christmas” was blaring in the background. But this year the house wasn’t illuminated in Snoopy doghouse fashion as I’d done in prior years.

 

I still have stuff to do to prepare for Christmas. With about a week left, did I miss it?

Are you, too, caught in some Christmas fog – you can sort of see and feel it, but your headlights haven’t quite fully captured it?

 

Were some past losses and memories of joys long ago experienced creeping in as a stark reminder of who wouldn’t be at the table this year? Maybe it is the challenges we all face creeping in?

 

Or maybe a celestial anesthetic is putting us into a quasi spiritual coma – and in zombie like fashion we’re going through the motions?

 

Perhaps (unaware how blessed for having family) the notion of gatherings is causing a sense of madness? Perhaps finances have changed, or maybe you just don’t know where you left your ‘ho ho ho?’

 

Or could it be the insanity of a world seemingly going madder and towards the point of no return quicker than at any other moment in my lifetime – an opinion not uncommon with several friends?

 

 Was it the rapidity of the Season and the dizzying array of things we all do preparing for Christmas? As if a 2000 year event needs preparation, if we truly ‘get’ the Reason for the Season.

 

Maybe you, too, are feeling like Christmas has gone too fast this year, and yet is not even here?

 

Or perhaps for inexplicable reasons, your own inner light feels a bit dimmer this year. Maybe we can’t even put a finger on the reason, just a vibe?

 

Going through the motions might not quite be the right description, but close, right?

 

So maybe just maybe it is time to start at the beginning…..

 

 

So I started with Luke’s narrative on Jesus’ birth is a good reminder where we can relocate our Christmas spirit.

 

Think what Mary and Joseph went through. No anticipatory party revelers. No banquets. No music welcoming our Savior except the sounds of animals in His Presence. The Heavenly choir was elsewhere on a hillside. Eventually the invited celebrants – shepherds- arrived. Months or years later the birthday gifts came courtesy of the Magi with the ultimate Christmas star – be it angel, God’s Light Himself or supernatural phenomenon – guiding the way.

 

From there I went for a different dose of Christmas inspiration…an annual tradition actually, reading A Christmas Carol

 

Early on I got an “aha” moment.  

 

Recall Marley is Scrooges dead partner who is trying to warn old Ebenezer of a fate worse than the haunted specter’s current and endless predicament…..Marley is condemned to wander aimlessly in a spiritual world, having forfeited any chance of helping people, but cursed to see suffering he could have prevented.  And in the process Marley must drag a heavy chain of safes and money boxes and the like throughout eternity. Marley warns Scrooge (and us?) that he has forged an even longer one being alive 7 years more than old Jacob.

 

Marley was giving Scrooge, and us, good counsel….let the Christmas spirit transform and inspire. I was starting to feel it again – my personal Christmas light was a bit brighter.

 

So off I went driving about here, there and yonder, looking at Christmas displays, drinking hot chocolate and exploring one of my favorite type of store….bookstores! 

 

In my travels  I came upon a quaint antique book seller, and went to their Christmas book section, whereupon I spotted several early volumes of Dickens, and a lovely little story called Miracle on 34th Street. If anyone can help me write this article, it will be Santa! And as usual, the Bishop of Myra didn’t let me down!

 

“Christmas isn’t just a day; it is a frame of mind”

 Kris Kringle (AKA Santa) from Miracle on 34th Street

 

Beyond being a great sound bite, or in this case, an admonition to a character in the book who didn’t buy into Christmas, one has to step back and consider what was Old Kris telling us? Was he merely tying up in more manageable format the lessons of Luke, the angels, Marley, and Fezziwig?

 

Kris Kringle, like Dickens through his beloved characters, is reminding us that while Christmas day is when we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, there is much more to God’s gift to us than a birthday party for His Son.

 

Perhaps I had been thinking in mere mortal terms….conflating the “ho ho ho” with the Heavenly Hosts.

 

Was I, like so many people this year, caught in the quicksand of our minds, or just awakening to the reality Christmas is around the corner and we still haven’t got all the “la” in our ‘fa la la?!’

 

Dickens took great pains to emphasize the Spirit of the Season, and like others after him, refers to Christmas as a Season, not just a day.

 

Consider the powerful ending of A Christmas Carol where Scrooge promises “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year….”

 

Dickens concludes the story by confirming Scrooge indeed did keep Christmas all year long and more! 

 

Maybe Christmas is a journey and destination all in one?

 

Scrooge the reclaimed might have answered “yes”

 

Perhaps we, like Scrooge are reawakening to a sensibility….what he was most concerned about when he woke up from his last ghost encounter. Consider the first question he asked the young boy in the street – “what day is it?”

 

Why? Scrooge associated Christmas magic with Christmas day, and wanted to make Christmas day special for those closest to him, through his newfound Christmas spirit, his newfound sense of generosity. And to his great relief it was Christmas – he hadn’t missed it. Have we?

 

But even if we have, it is ok to celebrate the spirit of Christmas on December 26th or 28th or March 25th or July 17th. Welcoming Jesus into our hearts and asking to keep Him and the joy of His birthday close to us all the time – and sharing what it means - that’s Merry Christmas.

 

The hungry person we feed, the shut in we visit, the teen we mentor, the homeless vet we connect with resources, none of these folks will care what day you open your heart, or when you share the Christmas magic, our Christmas spirit.

 

So, did we miss Christmas?

 

If we base our response on the outward trappings of the Season, inspirational, fun, and cheery though they are – the commercial, decorative, and physical representation of Christmas - it would be hard to conclude otherwise.

 

But if we base our responses on the true meaning of Christmas, then a treeless house, or carol-less airways or lightless neighborhoods cannot darken what Christ’s birth illuminated in the world, or us, nor can it end a magic that we all are capable of feeling, and sharing.  Christmas magic, the Christmas spirit is us or better said Christmas magic is Christ in us …. And what we do with and for each other year-long.

 

That is Dickens’ and Santa’s message.  It is the lesson of Luke. Every event from the Nativity onward is Christmas in action, Christmas magic.

 

Christmas we don’t miss if we are present to Jesus’ Presence.

 

Dickens and Santa are reminding us how powerfully beneficial it is for us to express Christmas through kindness, generosity, patience, integrity, good cheer and helping others. Dickens and Santa knew you didn’t ‘keep Christmas to yourself’ you shared it – with or without Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, tinsel, garland or parties – fun though they may be.  

 

Less than a week from our annual celebration of Jesus’ birth, whether through reading Luke’s narrative, or “A Christmas Carol” full of ghosts reminding us to Fezziwig ourselves and our neighbor s or employees, or showcasing Scrooge promising the Angel of Death or Phantom of Christmas Future he will endeavor to keep the meaning of Christmas in his heart yearlong, or recognizing it is a frame of mind, not a discrete 24 hour or even 6 week period that ends on December 26th we didn’t miss Christmas if we don’t miss Christ. 

 

The powerful story told unendingly for two millennia is our story. It is God loving us so much He gave us His only Son – a man of human and Divine nature, our Perfect role model how we should try to live, and through His death, gave us a direct line to God, thus allowing us the Holy Spirit into our being.

 

The Gospel of Luke ….  As Linus to Charlie Brown, “that’s what Christmas is all about.”

 

Christmas, did we miss it?

 

How could we? There’s much work for all of us to do in keeping with the Spirit of Christmas – homeless veterans, shut ins, sick children, rare disease research, scholarships for folks trying to better themselves through education, mentoring adolescents – helping the most vulnerable of age groups in the US today, hungry and struggling school kids, overburdened neighbors, community centers, the list of opportunities to make a difference is nearly endless.

 

Christmas, did we miss it?

 

You can never miss Christmas if you keep it year round. Don’t believe me? Just ask Old Ebenezer.

 

Put differently we didn’t miss Christmas if we don’t miss out on inviting Christ into our life; tinsel and caroling optional.

 

Merry Christmas

 

 

“Taking care of Christmas”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Opn2XXcybo


(images: Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. Image is Public Domain/Library of Congress USA https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2021/12/scrooges-prize-turkey-victorian-christmas-foodways-in-dickenss-a-christmas-carol/


Royalty Free – ©Shutterstock)

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