Monday, December 14, 2009

Column for the Christmas Paper

What's It All About Anyway???

The Grinch had it all figured out, or so he thought. Christmas was all about presents and toys and food and noise. But he was wrong.

Scrooge had it all figured out too. Christmas was a poor excuse to pick a man's pocket every year. It was a waste of time and money. But he was wrong.

Some in the church have it all figured out. Christmas is about insisting that the story is all important and factual and fighting against Santa or “Happy Holidays” or anything that draws attention from the baby born to a virgin and lying in a manger. Turns out they may be wrong too.

And so I come back to the question Charlie Brown asks; “Can anyone tell be what Christmas is all about?”. Is it the gifts? The holiday? Family? The story?

In the end Christmas is sort of about all those things and yet more than that. It is about the giving of tokens of love and affection to each other. It is about taking time away from being “productive” to spend with those who are important in our lives. It is about a story, a mixture of myth and legend and faith, told in words and songs and pictures of a special baby. But, for me, none of these quite answer Charlie Brown's question.

What is my answer? What does Christmas mean for me? Christmas is about birth. Christmas is about God breaking into our lives. That is the story we tell. That is the reason for our praise. We aren't celebrating the birth of a child over 2000 years ago. We celebrate the fact that here, now, as 2009 turns into 2010 something new is being born.

The great promise and hope of Christmas is that in the midst of our crises and troubles we hear of God breaking into our world and our lives. We are reminded that there is a light that no shadow can overcome. We listen for the song that brings “good news for all people”. The birth we celebrate may come in a way and place we don't expect, but our story reminds us that God rarely does the expected. Still there is light, there is hope, there is joy.

What is being born this Christmas? Where do we hear angel song? What hope is being awoken?


  1. Great post! I spent a good bit of today thinking about this very topic, "What is Christmas all about this year?" Like you, I think we make too much of the historical and too little of the now.

  2. hmmm ... for the first time in 17 years of ministry I find it hard to envision hope this Holy Season ... having no money to buy my children even a small present, being behind in my mortgage to the point that foreclosure is imminent, and no employment prosepects it's hard to feel any sense of hope ... but in broad brush strokes it has helped me remain mindful of those who this season are excluded and shut out ... The Church sometimes forgets about those of us on the margins - and that's who the angels sang to that first night ... it's helpful to remember THAT!!