"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."
Isaiah 53: 1-2
The garbage truck just rumbled by. The stacks of black plastic bags stuffed with boxes and bows vanished from the curb outside. The tree is coming down. The crèche in the yard is going back in the closet with the rest of the decorations. Christmas is over—gone with all the trappings and wrappings.
We can forget the notion of keeping Christmas in our hearts all year long as the nonsense of silly made-for-television movies. It’s time for reality to resume, time to get back to work.
Who has either the time or the inclination to keep up all that goodwill? Christ may have been important in ancient times. Nobody believes that stuff anymore. We’ve outgrown childish religions and fretting over commandments is a waste of time. Life is too complex and moves too fast for that. What good has it done the Christians you know? They ran and hid like all the rest at the mention of a virus and the frown of the State upon their meeting.
It’s time we were honest with ourselves and transparent with the truth. God is interested in people. God is all love and inclusion. There’s nothing about a church in Christmas. Christ wasn’t born in a religious fervor inside a church. He was born in nature, free of manmade encumbrances. The angels’ message was entrusted to poor shepherds, not televangelists. The Magi were from the Orient. Their way of worship was strange, but it was accepted.
If any of the Christmas story is about sin and salvation, it is that it’s a sin to ignore the salvation of the oppressed and brotherhood of victimization. There’s too much suffering in the world today, Christians should not add to it with their bigoted notions of right behavior and Truth that is a person.
Sound familiar? It’s the new Christmas story. We see it on television, in movies, and on social media. We watch it on the news. Political commentary hijacks it to preach a new normal in standardized behavior.
Its stench fills the air.
This is the spirit of our land, suspended for warm fuzzies and profit at the end of each year. Christmas is over. Let us return now to our real selves where nobody’s perfect and it doesn’t matter, unless, of course, those flaws offend someone.
In God’s eyes, Christmas never ends—people simply refuse to celebrate it in their hearts for more than a day. Christ still lives that is the undying spirit of God’s gift of peace and goodwill—not for a season, but forever.
It may be true that the Christian message of salvation born at Christmas lacks a certain comeliness. It does not exalt our technological genius, our highly evolved truths, or our longing to tear others down in the name of equity.
There is no beauty in those who resort to words alone. If none have believed our report, it is because we have not revealed the arm of the Lord in our practice. The quiet in the pews and recent memory of closed doors are profound. Church celebrated on Facebook is as false as the fear that created it.
If the elect are shamed to silence, the fault lies not with the world—the fault is ours. The kingdom of God is not in word but in power. Arise Christian to the adoration of, and fidelity to, the Child of Bethlehem. He lives!
Be loud; be insistent; be heard.