The Christmas season provides for us a comforting feeling, a warm spirit and a sentimental image in our mind of what the holiday season is all about. We love decorating our homes with bright lights, outdoing our neighbors with our massive inflatable Santa’s, hanging the wreath on our door, the gate, the back door and the front of our car. Replacing our boring tissue holders with a knitted box grandma made for us 20 plus years ago. The familiar Christmas tree smell, that comes from the candles we burn constantly to make it smell like a fresh tree is in our living room. We adore the thought of the holidays and everything that goes with it, and we love pretending we love what the holidays are all about. We love telling young children “It is better to give than to receive” but in all reality we would be hurt and unsatisfied if we gave gifts to everyone we know, and received nothing in return. We love saying “Good will to all men!” and the same day we flip someone off in the Target parking because they didn’t wait their turn at the four way stop. This is the reality of the holiday season we live in, a consumeristic culture driven by selfishness because the truth is many of us will be stressed over getting the perfect white elephant gift, funny and affordable, for one of the many parties we will attend this year while a single mother in our very own neighborhood will struggle to afford for her children just one gift for each of them. Why must we be forced into such a narrow view, why must we be so selfish and why must we refuse to see the reality of Christmas, a world of darkness that is in desperate need of true light, in desperate need of Jesus. Why must we continually “Remember the reason for the season” but in all reality Jesus is the last person on our mind, behind our children, spouse, best-friend, in-law, boss and even our mailman. Why do we not see Christmas for what it really is, light colliding with darkness and not simply interacting with one another in a dualistic way but light overcoming darkness in the most victorious way.
We do not like to think about the reality of depravity this time of year, we save that for black friday and leave it there as a yearly reminder, but we ought to. Not because we need to mourn and live in guilt of the depravity of man but because we need to remember, or maybe see for the first time, the light of the world stepping into his own people, living amongst his own creation, not being accepted by them and not simply being a light in his teaching and deeds but in his death. Has not the righteousness of God cast out all darkness for those who are in him? We do not like to remember our state before Jesus, and our current state as sinners and people who choose to live in darkness, but rather we enjoy showing off our own pitiful lights onto darkness during the holiday season. Families struggling with divorces line the house with colorful bulbs, people battling addiction decorate the tree with stringed lights, we light fires for warmth and comfort while we participate in fornication and debauchery. We give gifts to those we really don’t care for and we celebrate with people we would put out in the street tomorrow to help ourselves. There is an utter and looming darkness within us.
Christmas is about a God stepping into that, stepping into that exact darkness that is not only so prevalent but is enjoyed by so many! God coming into that darkness not only battling it head on but engaging within it through Christ and bringing light into the darkness. For those of us who are Christians it is really easy to look at this and brush it off and go pray for the lost, go mourn for those who don’t know Jesus but how do we react to this in our own life, in our own circumstances? By putting a bumper sticker on our car with our church’s website, by sponsoring the city nativity set this year, by praying prayers publicly in the malls, by giving the salvation army santa our spare change this year, by doing absolutely nothing except make ourselves try and feel better about the torment we have participated in and gone through all year! We really don’t do a lot when it comes to bringing the light of the world into the actual world. Jesus collides with darkness not only so that we may not live in blindness any longer but so that we may now, as the Church, be apart of that light, be a light in the world.
The Church does a good job this time of year focusing on those who are not apart of it, those who do not know Christ, those who do not attend Church. We know those who are CEO’s, Christmas and Easer only, and we focus on them so strongly this time of year. Would we continue to do so! And would we read them the Luke two story, and tell them John 3:16 and walk them trough the Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled. The Church needs to continue to do this and do it well, but would we not forget the Gospel of John. “4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5. Would the Church emphasize this strongly, that in Christ alone is there life, eternal life, abundant life and joyous life. He is the only true light in the world, that he came into the world “not to judge the world” but to show it, I am your savior, you have desperate need of me and I call you my very own. The world in which did not know him he entered, the world in which hated him he loved so deeply, the world that was blind he gave sight, the world that was dark he lit.
It is nerve wrecking to meditate on this because scripture says that each of us, every last one, are in utter darkness, consumed by sin, swallowed by pride, arrogance, guilt, hate, pain and brokenness… and Christ steps into that, in the form of an infant child lying in a manger, a cave if you will, by redeeming the Church, the people of God, his bride, back unto himself by showing us our very sin that drives us away from him so quickly and shows us our debt to be owed, he illuminates it, he guides us off of a path of death and onto a path of light by becoming an incarnate baby only to see our sin, take it upon himself, despite our darkness, despite even our love for the darkness and is crucified for our redemption that we would no longer walk in the dark but walk along a path of righteousness. Christmas is about light colliding with darkness and Christ commissioning the Church, be a light in a world filled darkness, just as I have done victoriously.