Celebrate the birth of our Savior.
“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bri—” well, maybe not so much. Anyone who has given birth, or been in the room with someone giving birth, or even watched “Call the Midwife” knows that there isn’t much silence or much calm around the birth of a child. Given that Jesus was born in a cave, it probably wasn’t very bright, either. And we don’t even know that it was nighttime when he was born. The shepherds got the word at night, but I like to think the angels at least gave Mary, Joseph, the baby and the women of the village who, undoubtedly, attended the birth, some time to rest and recover before they made the big announcement.
Our Christmas card images of the birth of the Son of God, don’t reflect reality, though we love to picture it that way. At this time of year, we tend to dwell on the joyous occasion of a new life coming into the world. We forget that this child was such a danger to the established order that Herod was willing to kill all boy children under the age of 2 years in order to make sure that Jesus did not reach adulthood and threaten his rule. At this time, we forget that the message Jesus brought was such a threat to religious authorities that they sought out ways, means and opportunities to get rid of him, and to blame it on the Romans. And we forget that, as Jesus traveled the countryside, teaching, preaching and healing, he was communicating to his followers that theirs wasn’t going to be an easy life. He told them he was going to suffer death and be resurrected, and that they, too, would be persecuted.
As we move into the Christmas season, let us indeed be joyful. Let us celebrate the birth of our Savior. But let us not forget that he came to bring the kingdom here on earth, and that it is our responsibility to help make that happen. We are to love God with all we are. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. But that love is not a touchy-feely, emotional thing. It requires action on our part. It requires that we treat others, all others as we want to be treated. It requires that we hold ourselves and our leaders accountable for what goes on in the world. It requires us, as we sing the beautiful hymns of Christmas, of the birth of the Christ child, to remember why he came and what he expects of us.