Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas day post mortem

As you woke up this morning, maybe you felt something like I did- eyes a little bleary from having stayed up late, head a little sore and still ringing from the laughter and Christmas music. Maybe, like me, you have assorted aches and pains from the annual family Christmas day football game.

Maybe you have that bittersweet cocktail going on - 2 parts let down, 1 part relief, 1 part dread at getting back to work and facing a new year. Hopefully, you didn't have a Christmas day flat tire, like I did.

But maybe, just maybe, you are like the Grinch this morning, puzzling till your puzzler is sore about how Christmas came without Ribbons and came without tags and came without packages boxes or bags. (We had to open presents Christmas Eve). Maybe, like me (and our green friend), once again, the true meaning of Christmas shone through and you are feeling the strength of 10 grinches plus 2 (that's 12 grinches for those in Washington DC).

What a magnificent Christmas this was for me (and not just because I threw 7 touchdowns, as we won the family football game) Christmas was wonderful this year because it was a day of connection, a day of reconciliation. Maybe not full reconciliation but (at the risk of torturing the metaphor) a day when the ball was moved down the field considerably.

Whether you credit the Angel Clarence or the ghost of Christmas past, there is just something about the magic of Christmas the heals the troubled soul. Thornton Wilder had it right-

In the war of love,
only wounded soldiers can serve.
~ from "The Angel that troubled the waters"
Only when you have suffered, can you truly empathize with those who suffer, only when you have truly loved, unselfishly, can you truly know and receive love. My family of wounded soldiers all fought on the same side yesterday.

Great and wondrous gifts were exchanged , gifts that could not fit under the tree. Fellowship, forgiveness, contrition and reconciliation. These are the only things that make us truly human. These are the only things that make life worth living.

The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
~John 1:5
So, in a manner of speaking, Christmas brings a new lease on life- not physical life, which is here today and gone tomorrow- but spiritual life which conquers and endures forever. Spiritual life that flows from God and through us, Grace that breaks down walls and crashes through barriers and makes whole the broken-hearted and restores peace to the troubled soul. It renews us, it recharges us, us gives us hope. A light to follow, a light to celebrate, a light to emulate.

In June of 2 BC, a spectacular event took place in the night sky over the middle east, as the planet Jupiter conjoined with Venus. The Magi would have seen it as the definitive sign to begin their journey from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).

In this area of the world, the daytime temperature can exceed 130 degrees in June. They would have traveled by night. They would have traveled in the darkness, led by the great light. Yes, the great light of the Bethlehem Star (Jupiter), but even more, by the great light of the child it led to.
2The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.

3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.

4For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou best overcome, as in the day of Median.

5For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.

6For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

~Isaiah 9

Your Christmas tree cannot duplicate that light, it can only symbolize it, but what a magnificent symbol it is. Remember, when you were a child and you gazed in wonder at the lighted tree? Imagine how your heart will leap, when you gaze upon the Light Himself?

If only for a few hours yesterday, enraptured in the love and fellowship of family and friends, I had another foretaste- another sip- of the joy that awaits. I will hold this in my heart beyond January 6th, the end of this blessed Christmas season.

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