how busy are you right now? pretty busy, right? take a look at your to-do list, if you keep such a thing. you may have shopping to do, gifts to wrap, things to bake, parties to plan, things to decorate, lights to hang, cards to send, not to mention the normal routines of life like work and cleaning and paying the bills. put altogether, the season kind of makes you want to take a time out. it's the most stressful time of the year.
and yet many of us will probably receive some beautifully designed christmas cards, maybe even with some gold foil or some serene photograph, that will boldly proclaim that this is a season of PEACE. peace? really? what exactly about this season is peaceful? raise your hand if you find this to be the most peaceful time of the year? *looking around* that's what i thought. even as i asked the question you were remembering that you forgot to pick up that gift card for exchange at work so you'll have to get that this week, and you need to remember to get that surge protector for the lights. sigh.
and yet. this is the season of peace. but why? and how? in the midst of all the craziness that has become Christmas, how can we have peace?
well, in a word, perspective.
if we can move through these days with intentionality and with perspective, remembering that all the tree-decorating and trimming, and the baking and sending and hanging and wrapping - all of it - is because of one little vulnerable baby. if we can live out our pre-Christmas (advent) days in the awareness of that child, then we can have peace because we can remember what all this is about. without the baby in the straw, there is not man of galilee. without the man of galilee, there is no hill of the skull. without the hill of the skull, there is not empty tomb. and without the empty tomb, there is no hope for you and i; there is no redemption; there is no life.
and so, as we hang the lights and try to figure out why half the strand won't light up; or as we work on our christmas letter, or try to figure out what to buy or how we can afford it, we need to stop and take some deep breaths. we need to remember that the tiny little human in a manger is not just another baby, but is God with skin on, the incarnation, emmanuel: God with us! it may not be easy to understand, but even in the midst of chaos, we can have a deep peace because our perspective reminds us of the bigger picture.
so that is my wish for you this season: peace. peace that passes understanding. peace that comes from perspective. and i pray that you find sometime to get to church and worship the One who wrote and first sang the redemption song. make time to come together with a community of people who are trying to hear that song amidst the din of holiday noise, and sing it along with them. come home for christmas, and know the peace that passes understanding. peace to you.