Monday, December 22, 2014

What Christmas Means to Me

I am a horrible, obnoxious, vicious critic of Christmas songs. I deliver up a full helping of snarky comments all day long, all season long. There are the stupid meaningless songs, the dysfunctional relationship/recent break up/stalker songs, the "winter" songs, the bad theology religious songs (Do you hear what I hear?), the Beach Boys attempt at comparing Santa's sleigh to a hot rod, my kids' favorite which they call '6-pack at a liquor store', and it just goes on and on. I've written blogs about particular songs and lists of songs. This is not one of those posts. It's just inspired by one of those Christmas songs, but I'm not going to critique it. Just quote it.

Fires burning low, lots of mistletoe
Lots of snow and ice everywhere we go
Choirs singing carols right outside my door
All these things and more, that's what Christmas means to me my Lord

Here is what Christmas means to me, why I love to celebrate it.

A long time ago, God made a man and a woman. He gave them only one rule. Eat from any tree but this one. They disobeyed, and everything began to die. But even as God told them to leave and described some of the consequences of their actions, He said, I'm gonna fix this.

Thousands of years of sin, judgement, repentance and forgiveness later, in a moment of unfathomable and extraordinary grace and mercy, God placed the glory and majesty and splendor of Himself in the humble womb of a nondescript unmarried young woman. The glory of Mary is that she said yes. The glory of God is that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He showed us the Father. He became acquainted with grief. He learned obedience through suffering. He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, and in the same earthly breath, was Himself the propitiation for our sin.

Unbelievable, and yet gloriously believable.

All in a moment, in a gestational moment. All of creation, pregnant with desire and expectation, waiting for that one pregnancy and delivery of the Deliverer. Is it not magnificent? Is it not extraordinary? I am not diminishing the Cross or the Resurrection. But the culmination of everything before was that moment. The Word become Flesh. We beheld His Glory. The Glory of the Only One begotten of the Father. Full of grace. Full of truth. At the same time. Not in competition, not torn, not confused. Grace and truth. Mercy and justice, simultaneously born to us here together. Stunningly, exquisitely, universe shatteringly beautiful.

You can see where "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" sorta falls just a tad short, right?

Friday, December 19, 2014

What I tell my kids about Santa

When I think about writing a book, which I do sometimes, I think I will have a chapter, or a part of each chapter, or a whole book called "Conversations with my children," which would be all the things I say to my kids about sex or friendships or racism or when someone is unkind to you or Santa Claus. So here is that one:

Santa is real. He is a real person who lived a very long time ago. He loved Jesus and is in heaven with Jesus right now. When he was alive on earth, one way he showed how much he loved Jesus was by helping people and giving to people who were poor and needy. He was so great at it, people said he was a saint, a person who is holy like Jesus. That's why he's called Santa Claus. Saint-ni Claus or Saint Nicholas.

He was such a great guy, people still talk about him, dress up like him, make up stories about him. But he was real. And if he was here today, he would probably say that all the stories about him are silly and that we shouldn't focus on him, we should focus on Jesus.

On Christmas eve, we leave cookies and milk for Santa, a carrot or two for the reindeer, and stockings hang from our, um, kitchen cabinet knobs. And on Christmas morning, our children find candy and gifts and a letter to each from Santa, telling them how great they are, how loved they are, how pleased their parents are with them, and how loving Jesus is the most important thing in the whole world. In mom or dad's handwriting. Love, Santa.