If you watch enough Christmas movies you know what is meant to happen at Christmas. There’s meant to be a Christmas “miracle” of some sort, everyone is meant to receive that one thing that will complete them. The amazing toy that was sold out everywhere is found wrapped under the tree, the true love who suddenly appears in some miraculous way, the return of the wandering child. At the end everyone is laughing and happiness is all around and Christmas is revealed to be a truly magical time for all.
What we do know to be true is that Christmas is about redemption, it is about grace, it is about mercy … now for some of you that might mean, for you, Christmas is going to be difficult.
For some of you all those Christmas movie expectations leave you feeling a little disappointed because for you, your Christmas is more akin to the Costanza’s celebration of Festivus. Perhaps the Ebenezer Scrooge in your life does not repent of his selfish, miserly behaviour, the grinch you know has a heart that continues to shrink and he follows through on his intention to make everyone suffer.
For some I know this Christmas is the first without a dear loved one. We are praying for you.
For some I know this Christmas comes at the end of a tough year, not just a “I didn’t get what I wanted” year — a year in which you were betrayed, let down, disappointed, abandoned, disregarded and ignored, a year of massive pain, massive heartache and hardship and one that has left you altered. This year you may have discovered that the ones who always swore they had your back didn’t, the ones who you were meant to admire and aspire to be, turned out to be mere mortals, or perhaps worse.
Your life is not a made for television Christmas movie.
Your life is more like a gritty reality tv show.
The reality we need to remember is that Christmas is about a gift given.
A gift that can be received gratefully or can be discarded callously.
A gift that came in the form of a baby.
The birth that we celebrate was a lonely one.
It was a “far away from home” birth.
It was a birth that was at once celebrated and despised.
That baby born was the Light of the World.
Maybe this year your Christmas is a lonely one – maybe you’re Ebenezer, maybe you are the one on the outside of the family, the one who has done the letting down. Maybe you’ve put self first so often that you are all you’re left with, maybe you are the one who has caused the pain, maybe you are the one whose actions have set a whole mess in motion and now you are paying for it.
Maybe it’s time for you to look at what this time of year is actually about.
It’s about the light entering the darkness, it’s about peace coming into a weary world, it’s about hope for the hopeless, it’s about joy replacing sorrow.
It’s about you and the one you really need to know – not just Jesus the little baby, but Jesus the man.
The One who was born to die for the pain you’ve caused, the wrongs you’ve committed, the damage you’ve done, your shortcomings and your failures.
This year is different for us yet again – we’ve had some different ones in the past, this one is set to be different yet again.
We will spend time with some of our loved ones, we will invest in the ones we are with and we will pray that the Light of the world, the One who we are celebrating will shine into the dark areas that are in conflict with goodness, light, life, grace, mercy, peace and justice.