Our Christmas will be quiet this year. Just our children and the animals. I am finding joy in this quiet holy moment.
Our “normal” Christmases don’t always capture the mood of the original. For one, we always have a warm place to stay and even if our house sometimes sounds like a barn it’s not. But this year like that first Christmas there is a collective yearning for an end to our current situation. Our hearts are a beat more in tune with Mary’s. Listen to her words:
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
We have to do a bit of stretching before we get to the “Holly Jolly Christmas” of last year. Mary’s words reflect pain of generational oppression and the collective waiting and yearning for liberation from the brokenness all around. This is the emotion of the original Christmas.
This Christmas will be different for many people, but it won’t be lost. We might not be celebrating with large families gathering or hectic shopping excursions but none of that was present for Mary either so many years ago.
The event was quiet, maybe even a bit scary giving birth outside alone. There is no mention of anybody but Mary, her husband, and a few visitors who lived outdoors, but otherwise it was missed by most of the world. This holy event was only celebrated by a handful of people.
I think we have an opportunity to understand at a deeper level what Mary and Joseph may have been feeling during that holy night of birthing pains.
Imagine Rome is at the height of its power. It rules with an iron fist. The peace is kept only by the threat of the sword. Your small near eastern country insignificant on the map. A quiet desperation hangs in the air, only being voiced in guarded tones within your trusted community. Your nation divided. Some go along with Rome, to gain proximity to power, like Zacchaeus, others rebel and are executed like many of the Zealots.
Your Psalms sound like this, “How long oh LORD will you look away from your children?”
Shopping malls decked with holly and the cheery Christmas music of the past decades probably don’t quite encompass the emotional distress and equal hope of this season 2000 years ago.
This season is becoming less about the unwrapping of gifts and more about our communal need of liberation. If there was ever a year that most of world could understand and highlight this, it would be 2020.
SE Asia continues to deal with the fallout of COVID-19. Cases continue to rise in countries around us. Even though T-land has done a great job contract tracing and keeping COVID at bay within its borders, the lack of tourist continues to take its toll. Just this weekend news broke of a spike in cases. Plus we are noticing the long term effects of it. More businesses struggling and closing their doors. I have seen tents and people sleeping outside around as I commute. The world is groaning.
But there is hope. Our God came to Earth to be with us. He came to ache as we do, to long for something different for the world as we do. He came to reveal the depths of His love for us so that we can in turn love one another. I pray this Advent season that we will love one another with our words, our deeds, and our thoughts and make tangible the presence of Christ to neighbor and enemy alike.