I’ve been somewhat of an observer of Christmas this year. The me that usually partakes fully in everything Christmassy I can possibly fit in has been overcome by the weakness of my body and so I’ve been sitting on the sidelines; firstly at home, watching as my family took part in carol singing, parties, services and school events; and now in hospital, hoping very much for a get-out-of-hospital-free card for Christmas Day.
So where does this fit into the Great Adventure? What can be possibly said to be of any good about this situation? I’ve cried myself out, ranted and rallied, and then given in to the good of finally getting IV treatment (and that’s another story I won’t bore you with right now.)
It’s made me think about a few things though. What is Christmas when it is all stripped down? What is it when observed from a sofa or sickbed? What is it when someone cannot join in the festivities and the events, save in their mind and spirit?
Perhaps when Christmas is stripped down to its bare bones the truth is revealed. Perhaps behind the tinsel and the mulled wine there is a glimpse of something much more profound, much more thunderingly awesome. To avoid the use of the <too> much-used phrase ‘put the Christ back in Christmas’ we can find that Christ was always in Christmas, and Christ was always in everything. The incarnation of the Son of God is there at the heart of it all.
Not that carols and parties are mindless frivolities and that I am somehow rising above them in a martyr like fashion – I’d far prefer to be an active partaker. More that sometimes sitting back and being hit again by the ultimate truth behind the season can be important. It would be good if everyone could find time in the midst of this fraught last week before Christmas to think on these things – it’s easy for me, it’s writing blog posts under the influence of IV meds or watching endless Jeremy Kyle. Hmmm. <sulks at not having internet>
What is it about the incarnation that makes it so incredible, that somehow makes everything work, brings peace to those in the most desperate of circumstances? Possibly the simplicity of God loving the world so much; possibly the mind blowing way that Jesus lived among people, walked with them in their sorrow and sickness and pain. And still does today. It’s not only that, though. It’s something in the way Jesus was born not as a king in finery and riches. He was born in poverty and weakness. God identified with all that was not strong and successful. In the weakness of beginnings God showed that God is with us in more than just a cold and theoretical way. God really is with us in the mess, and however weak we are, whether in sickness or in other ways, knowing that can change everything.
I can’t say I am happy to be here and content in suffering and all that malarkey. But when I look at this beautiful celebration I’m amazed, and I’m living in hope, and I’m finding peace in the brokenness. I hope you all, in all your life situations, can find something of the immense love of God for you this Christmas.
And so the lonely, the sick, the downtrodden can know that Christmas is good. Please remember them in your own busy lives. I wonder who I can bring this hope to this Christmas.
Now, bring on the tinsel and mince pies, because the food here is rubbish and the decor somewhat lacking...;)