Early morning in the Chicago suburbs. Samuel wanted a white Christmas. It has come. I am usually the first one up wherever I am and I have the morning hours to be quiet, read, think things through. This morning is no different. Except that it is Christmas Day. I am expecting a happy, miserable, funny, joyful, sad kind of day today. The kind that makes you tired just thinking about. I have never been one to control emotions well even on good days.
But today is Christmas. I have a private understanding of Christmas that I know has no basis in historical fact. But I hold to it anyway. I know that we don’t know what day Jesus was actually born. I have heard the theories that it was probably spring time when it happened. I have read all about the early Christians taking over a pagan holiday and turning it into Christmas. Okay, I grant all that. And if I wanted to teach a class about the historical fact of Jesus’ birth I would certainly include all those things. But today I am celebrating Christmas (and my birthday) and I am going to take a few liberties.
We recently passed the longest night of the year. I believe it was December 21, but I always get confused on the date. The winter solstice. The next morning we woke up to the first day of winter. This long night and short day is the perfect time to be celebrating the birth of Jesus because it was in the midst of the world’s darkness that God sent his Son. Jesus did not come into humanity’s spring time or harvest time. No. He came in the midst of the long dark nights. He came as a light in that darkness. And he came to defeat the darkness. The problem in Narnia was that it was always winter but never Christmas. But God changed all of that when Jesus was born. The light has come into the world. We may not see the thaw yet, but it is coming. Spring will come.
Timberley and I love Christmas time. I am one of those people that begin playing Christmas music in July. We are staying with my brother and sister-in-law this Christmas and they know how to make things warm and homey for Christmas. My sister-in-law is a wonderful cook and has treated us to her Christmas traditions from the kitchen. Samuel is enjoying the sugar charge. Anna loved Christmas, too. Her favorite song was O Come O Come Immanuel. At her baptism on Easter Sunday she requested that song to be sung. At first I balked, but it was her day. And then I realized that the song is true even when it is not Christmas. And Anna lived in a very O-Come-O-Come-Immanuel kind of way. She longed for the return of Christ.
This Christmas will be a hard, sad time for us this year. But winter is hard and sad. It is cold. It can be lonely. But that is why Jesus was born. Because the hardness will be softened. The sadness will turn to joy. Cold will turn to warmth. And most of all, we are not lonely anymore. For God is with us. Immanuel has come.