Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Thoughts

Christmas used to be simple. When I was a child, Christmas was all about a baby in a snowy barn, held by his haloed mother and surrounded by pleasant looking shepherds, three kings, and a glittery angel singing “Gloooooooooooria (deep breath) in excelsis Deo!” The only complicated thing was singing the angel’s chorus without passing out.

Now things are more complicated. The snowy barn is a desert cave, the haloed mother is a young, scared teenager, the shepherds are dirty, the kings aren’t even there yet, and thrown into the mix is an evil king, murdered baby boys, and a land of mourning mothers.

But how should it be? I miss the simplicity of my childhood nativity, but I don’t miss the warped view of that scene. It wasn’t pretty, or pristine, and as a friend of mine says in a beautiful Christmas song:
"It was not a silent night/There was blood on the ground/You could hear a woman cry/In the alleyways that night/On the streets of David's town/And the stable was not clean/And the cobblestones were cold/And little Mary full of grace/With the tears upon her face/Had no mother's hand to hold..."

There’s a part of me that thinks Christmas is complicated. I can’t quite wrap my mind around how the Creator became the created. How the infinite God became a finite man. But then there’s the other part of me that thinks it is simple. Humankind needed a Savior, a sacrifice. Only God could be the perfect sacrifice. God took on the form of man. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. Thus, Christmas.

I’m trying to learn to appreciate the simplicity of man and the complexity of God. Christmas demonstrates the simple solution to a complex problem. Or perhaps, the complex solution to a simple problem.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. I don’t know that I should.

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