Christmas time is here! As I write this, snow is melting on the ground and the sun is shining bright. The ground is pretty much bare, but that is pretty much the way it is around this time of year. One cannot normally expect a white Christmas, and it is a delight when it does arrive.
The thought of a snowy white blanket in December brought me back to a time in 1957 when a great blizzard covered our farm in Western Oklahoma with enough snow that we could walk over the tops of our chicken barns. The snow sparkled for almost a week before melting in the early spring thaw.
It was a magnificent time of exploration for me and my siblings. We dug into the drifts and made caves and tunnels. We walked on wind-swept snow drifts that soared into the air.
Today, I still marvel at the beauty of a snowflake, even though its arrival comes upon the wings of a weather system that brings wind, freezing rain and sleet. Its dazzling presence reflects so much light that the naked eye has difficulty seeing it without some sort of eye protection. This, to me, is a metaphor for God’s purity, love and righteousness.
It is a symbol of his beauty and the grace he desires to shower upon us. It is an invitation to walk into and live within the light, and begin a relationship with Him.
I do not think it strange that as we celebrate Christ’s birth in a little Judean town of Bethlehem, that elements of nature continually proclaim the nature of God. It is, however, increasingly strange how humanity struggles with it and tries to redefine the Christmas story and create just another holiday for us to celebrate during the winter season.
The commercial version of the Christmas holiday begins as soon as the Thanksgiving holiday ends. Perhaps the primary redeeming quality of this endeavor is the festive look around the cities. Holiday lights come on, making even the dreariest place to come alive.
The downtown Plaza in Kansas City looks beautiful at night. Long ago, on a trip through Eastern Nebraska and North Central Kansas, I observed nearly a dozen of individual light displays that rivaled the gaudy display highlighted in the movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Unfortunately, I could not enjoy them very much, thanks in part to the approaching weather system that was dropping freezing rain and sleet at the time, as my priority was driving safely through it all.
It has been said that the Christmas holiday can be the most depressing time of year for some people. I can relate to that. When everyone around you seems to be in a festive mood, expressing holiday cheer, celebrating with friends and associates, and they all seem to be so happy at the time. Yet you cannot find the energy nor the desire to be happy and to participate in the yuletide activities.
Perhaps a spouse has passed on. Perhaps a recent divorce has taken the wind out of your sails. Perhaps your alimony support is no longer coming in, or an adult child’s finances have taken a turn for the worse as their marriage comes apart, forcing you to spread your wings a little further to share your meager income with a growing household.
Or a middle-aged person just lost his/her job, due to “downsizing” in the company that took twenty plus years of hard work, with only a gold watch as a gift noting the passage of time and a brief note of thanks–and job prospects on the horizon are slim to none, and the only jobs available are flipping burgers at minimum wages.
What good is “Christmas cheer” when these things happen? It only focuses the attention on us, so everyone can see the disparity between us and them, and it deepens one’s sense of despair.
True joy and peace do not come from the external display that one sees during the holidays. It never will.
The message of Christmas is that a Savior is born. He is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He has come into this world to redeem us, to save us from our sins, and he is inviting us to share in all of the goodness that heaven is.