Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wishing You A Troubled Christmas

Christmas comes once again with all its wrappings.  The lights on the lawns and in the windows of many homes brighten the darkness of these winter nights.  The old familiar carols, the family gatherings around the tinseled tree, the giving and receiving of gifts, and candlelight vigils, these all lift us for a little while above the normal, the usual, and the routines to which we are so accustomed.  Visions of sugar plums dance in the minds of children as they await Christmas Day.

“This Is Christmas,” writes Howard Thurman:
“The evergreen singing aloud its poem of constant renewal,
The festive mood spreading lilting magic everywhere,
The gifts of recollection calling to heart the graces of life,
The star in the sky calling to mind the wisdom of hope,
The warmth of candlelight glowing against the darkness,
The birth of a child linking past to future,
The symbol of love absorbing all violence.

But there is more to Christmas than these things.  God comes, not to pat the world on the back and make things merry and bright, but to disturb, upset, and change it.  God comes to turn the world upside down!  In the midst of all our Christmas celebrations are we troubled and perturbed by this discordant note?  Matthew writes in his gospel, “King Herod was greatly perturbed when he heard this…”  Are we perturbed and troubled when we sing, “Peace on earth, goodwill to all?”  Paul Scherer writes, “Could it be that the only trouble God has with Christmas is that it troubles us so little?”

We celebrate Christmas but we are slow to set it to work!  This ought to perturb and trouble those of us who celebrate the season.  Again, Howard Thurman speaks:
“Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes,
And the heart consumes itself, if it would live,
Where little children age before their time,
And life wears down the edges of the mind,
Where the old man sits with mind grown cold,
While bones and sinew, blood and cell, go slowly down to death,
Where fear companions each day’s life,
And Perfect Love seems long delayed.

In you, in me, in all mankind.”

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