Sunday, December 25, 2011
This has been a bit of a hard Christmas, so far. (It's Christmas Day here now - I know my US friends still have one sleep to go!) My extended family gets together on Boxing Day, so this afternoon, as I type, it is quiet and restful. The kids and I are at my mum's now, having done the "usual" family Christmas morning thing at home, for the first time as a separated couple. It was a bit rough. On all of us, I think. There was a bit of na-na-nastiness re Christmas arrangements yesterday... but it didn't last long. Mostly it was just a bit awkward and sad.
Like all holidays, really, Christmas can sometimes be very tough. The fact that we feel it is supposed to be all about love and togetherness just makes the lack of those things, where it exists, an extra raw
experience. Mother's Day has often been like that for me (& I know others who find that day hard too) due to the loss of a child. Any special holiday can have that effect, I guess.
Anyway. In that context, a few short thoughts about what Christmas really does mean.
As an aside (& not the point of this post); I have no problem at all with the tradition of gift-giving. Leaving the ugly commercialism aside (and there's really no need to buy into that anyway), giving thoughtful gifts, and finding ways to show those around you that they are valued, is an entirely appropriate way to reverence God who gives. And it seems to me that even if your thoughts aren't on God - the freedom and joy of giving and enjoying one another still rings with the echoes of God's Kingdom.
But gift giving aside (& there are times when that can seem very hollow and empty) the part of the first Christmas story that is the still point in my storm, this year, are the words "God with Us".
After all, that was the message of that first Christmas day. That little Jewish baby, born into the mess of human physicality, poverty, politics and culture clashes, was God - come to walk WITH us.
To me, that's the Good News. That's it! God is with us. He's not against us. He's not above and beyond us. With us.
When my family is a mess. He's with me.
When I'm sick. He's with me.
When I can't pay the bills. He's with me.
When I screw up my relationships. Still with me.
When I run out of faith. Still here.
When I'm grieving. He's right beside me.
When I'm saying ugly words to my ex-husband. He's still there.
When I can't still myself to hear him. He's right there anyway.
When I don't WANT to hear him. He's still there. Waiting.
And I think the whole idea we so often get from religion, that God is out there waiting to come down heavy on us when we "sin" or don't get it right; just doesn't fit with the message of Christmas - God WITH us - at all.
Right now, that is a big comfort to me.
So, peace on earth, good will toward men... and thank you, God, that you are with us. No matter what.
Image sourced from: http://ninatidwell.com/archives/332