Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Confession

I. O come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel…

People in need and blind to the truth,
They were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
They cried for immediate freedom from political conquerors
But didn’t understand their spiritual slavish bonds were far worse
God’s Great Logos: infinite, powerful, just, untamable, and good
Attentive and broken-hearted by the plight of Adam’s children
Watched and waited for the time prophesied.
In that day, a single instant rendered Him fully human, yet still God
Sent by the Father, conceived by the Spirit, imbued with love, mercy and power.
Accepted by a willing girl, who was astonished and humbled by divine calling
Nine months later, she gave birth to Yahweh.
Angels heralded
Shepherds gloried
Anna and Simeon praised
Magi worshiped
Mary and Joseph marveled.
Nothing compares to this, nothing but one thing:
Thirty-three years later, that loving Soul gave up His life for me.

II. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…
I sit by my window, longing for snow and comforts of home.
I close my eyes and imagine the tree decked with ornaments
Some store-bought, some made; all given by loving friends and family
The wafting fragrance of homemade cookies and wassail console my mind’s nose.
That old Christmas cd—the one we play every year—plays quietly
It is time for bed, but on this, Christmas Eve, we fulfill a special tradition
Sleeping bags are arranged by the Christmas tree for my brother, sister, and I.
Good night hugs all around, the three of us will snuggle down, lulled to sleep by the colored lights.

We wake around eight, make and eat breakfast, then open gifts
I hear a knock at the back door and we open it to see friends
We play games for hours; I grin smugly as I beat Caleb at Khet.
We eat lunch eventually, sharing stories of Christmases long and near past
Of course, we remain entertained by Daniel and Micah, who naturally keep us in stiches.
Then we’ll put food away and gather around the piano—I’ll sit there
Seth twangs his banjo
Daniel strums his guitar
Caleb plinks his mandolin
Micah fingers his upright bass
Hannah and Esther harmonize their violins
Our cacophony calms into order and we begin, our music drawing others near
Those who aren’t playing—and many who are— will sing carols and hymns and praises.

III. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style…
My eyes open; I sigh, wishing for this daydream to become reality.
I sip my cocoa and listen as Pandora plays Burl Ives.
I hope Steven Nelson’s “Carol of the Bells” is next,
Instead it’s “Rocking around the Christmas Tree” so I close my computer
In the other room, my roommate watches Elf; perhaps I’ll join.
Unnoticed, I enter and glance over her shoulder—a commercial
Santa in a shirt and tie sells a Chevrolet to a woman—she wants to know where his suit is
ABC announces the next show will be The Santa Clause
The next scene of Elf flashes to life: Buddy is saving Santa; Jovi is singing infectiously
Although I was raised on films like White Christmas, I find this movie cute.

My phone rings—it’s Erika: did I buy the candy canes for the party tonight?
Not yet.
I bundle up and trek to the store, my Christmas scarf around my neck
I hope they’re not out—candy canes are to be prizes for games we’ll play.
The Salvation Army volunteer ringing the bell
                Boy scouts in the parking lot selling trees
Shoppers with very full carts
                                                Children wanting to see Santa Claus
                                                                Two women behind me complain about Christmas bustle and bother
I buy the candy canes and leave. I smile to see snowflakes falling quietly outside
As my change falls in his bucket, the volunteer smiles broad and wishes me a merry Christmas

IV. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born
The commercialization of the holiday all around; the shift from sacred to mere tradition disturbs me
I am young, inexperience, voiceless—who would listen to a “radical” like me?
The antagonistic voice in my head reminds that my desire to influence is but a dream.
I stop at a red light and put in a CD, Focus’ Radio Theatre A Christmas Carol reaches my ears
Another block and a figure catches my eye
She stands, a shabby coat hanging on her frame, stringy grey hair whipping in the wind
Such a sight should not be, especially in December.
My question returns, overwhelming Scrooge and Cratchit’s conversation
An idea dawns.
I whip through the MacDonald’s drive-through
Burger, fries, pie, and coffee on the seat next to me, I return and give her the bag
“It’s not much, but it’s all hot. Would you like a ride somewhere?”
A tear slips down her cheek; she glances at me a moment but never makes eye contact
She mumbles that she lives nearby; “Are you sure?” Yes, she is sure.
I nod and give her a hug. “God bless you, ma’am.” She nods and turns away.
I return to my car and start the motor, my heart singing, yet mourning her lot
Perhaps this is my calling: follow my Savior
                Walk where He walked
                                Listen as He speaks
                                                Pray for His blessing
                                                                Trust Him to multiply my gift
I Remember the Nativity, look forward to all this holiday means, and reach out as God reached me
This is what Christmas means.

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