Oh, of course Christmas means all the usual sentimental things to me: family gathered around the fireside, the excited faces of the children opening their gifts, a tree decorated with ornaments full of memories (a tree for which I was forced to pay TWENTY DOLLARS this year, might I add, when I normally refuse to go above $10!!!). And I’ll have all that. And I’ll be back later with pictures to prove it.
But for today, on Christmas Eve, I want to link to three things that sum up for me the un-sentimental part of Christmas: what it means to me theologically. One’s a song, and two are things I wrote (which many of you have read before). The first two things come with a language/content warning attached, which I’ll admit doesn’t sound very Christmassy. But together, the three of them sort of explain my deepest thoughts about the season.
The first is a song that lots of people, like me, count as their favourite Christmas song, while others just find it kind of offensive and not Christmassy at all. To me it’s just so bittersweet and lovely, such a reminder that this is actually quite an unhappy time of year for a lot of people, and unhappiness, bitterness and resentment are part of the human condition, just as love and joy and peace are.
Then there’s this story I wrote a couple of years ago, about two people not quite as lost and unhappy as the two characters in that song, but still pretty messed-up. And it actually is a Christmas story, not just because it takes place at Christmas, but because it’s about incarnation and redemption and all that stuff. It’s called Wayfaring Stranger, and at one point the characters actually sing a few lines from the song above, so there is a link.
And finally, my attempt to explain why scenes like these tug at my heart so much: here (yet again, because I post it every year I think) is the Christmas sermon I would preach if I ever got to preach at Christmas. It’s called Flesh.
And that’s what Christmas means to me. Humanity is a screwed-up mess — but a lovable mess — and Christmas is when we celebrate God entering that mess and transforming it. That’s what I believe. Have a good Christmas, everyone — whatever that means to you.