If the Easter greeting is:
He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
Then a Christmas greeting might well be:
Christ is Born.
We’ll each find our own way of starting out the joy of this day. Each Christmas morning Kerry and I gather with our children (if they be home): Jessica with her husband Stephen and their son Bartholomew (16 months old), and our son Andrew with his wife Anna. We’ll do a number of things together but will in the course of the day read the Christmas story and give thanks. We will repeat that experience with extended family at my sister Gillian and Stephen’s home. Christmas for me is marked in my memory in over a dozen different homes but still in the midst of family. Thinking of love at Christmas can have many different memories attached but for some this year memories at Christmas will be touched by the loss of those we love who are no longer present. Some close to many of us have passed; a relationship may be compromised or severed; distance may “make the heart grow fonder” in different situations… “Out of sight, out of mind.” My childhood Christmas’ were marked by relative frugalities yet times of great happiness with family and church community. Turning our hearts to a memory of what was is sometimes great but sometimes harsh. It is not a platitude or easy cliché when we say to each other at Christmas that thinking of love places us intimately in the presence of the Christ child and ultimately in the presence of the Triune God throughout eternity. The comforts, security, sadness, unfinished feelings, and reassurances that all get tumbled up at Christmas. C. S. Lewis in the “Problem of Pain” (incidentally written before the loss of his wife, Joy) wrote a prodding, gentle challenge to our sense of “love” in a paragraph entitled “Refreshments on the Journey”:
“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshed us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
There are lot of good and joyful thoughts to be had this Christmas Day… and in Christ every day. Lots of primers in our lives for great good and pleasure. All this good simply points to being even more at home in Christ this day and always.
May this week find you in your grief, comforted; in your joy, met; in your memories, reconciled, thankful and at peace in full measure.
In this Christmas Day as you rise alone, or in a crowded house, or are awakened by an excited child, may we all experience the simple joy of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that first Christmas Day. Amidst the uncertainty and joy of it all… Jesus is home. Hallelujah, Amen!