Christmas Never Gets Old
By, Chaplain Howard Earle
Christmas is here! The shopping malls are festively decorated, lines are long, and the songs of the season fill the air. I am an unapologetic Christmas nut! I love everything about Christmas; from the lights, to the songs, the smells, down to the wrapping paper. While I’ve celebrated dozens of Christmases in my lifetime, I can honestly say that no two were the same. Christmas falls on the same day every year. We sing the same songs, shop the same stores, and even wear the same ugly sweaters. But no matter how much redundancy from year to year, there’s always something fresh about Christmas.
I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who is a pastor. He candidly shared with me his struggle with preaching during the Advent season. He felt he could only say so much about the Advent story and that he struggled to keep the story fresh. While he appreciates the magnitude of Advent and its significance, he was concerned that his flock would grow tired and disinterested. I certainly could appreciate his concern about freshness; for no pastor who has been preaching to the same congregation for multiple years hasn’t shared the same concern. My counsel to my friend was born out of my own pastoral journey and life experience. What greater well to draw freshness from than one that says, “God with us?” We both agreed that it’s not our job to make the Advent narrative interesting. Our job is to present it, declare it, proclaim it! God does the rest.
The older I get, the cornier I am about Christmas and it’s because of my appreciation for the truth of the season, God came near. Christmas comes at the same time every year, but we’re not the same people we were last Christmas. Life does not look the same this Christmas as it did last year. I took my last car ride with my mother on Christmas day last year, driving her to the emergency room. My dad was in hospice last Christmas. Both of my parents went home to be with the Lord in January. Christmas will never be the same. I’m sure you have fond memories of last Christmas, unwrapping gifts and enjoying the presence of loved ones, a delectable Christmas feast, or watching your favorite Christmas movie. Someone maybe missing from this year’s Christmas who was always there down through the years. Or perhaps it’s your first Christmas at Beacon Hill, not in your own home. It’s the same holiday, at the same time, but life is different. And though it’s different, God is still here, with us.
That is the wonder of Christmas! God is WITH us. When we see through the commercial and superficial elements associated with Christmas, we see our great God breaking into human experience, breaking all rules of science, and defying cultural norms just to be with us. Christmas must remind us that God makes the impossible possible and the insignificant significant. How can that get old? Depending on the year and circumstances we face, skepticism and cynicism can show up. But even Scrooge’s heart was changed. So, wear last year’s sweater, keep using the same ornaments, play all of the classics and watch how God chooses to show up this year.