It’s tempting to long for a greeting card Christmas. Baby Jesus glows in a snug bed of fresh hay. His joyful mother and protective father gaze with adoration at their glorious baby. Cue the awestruck shepherds and fluffy sheep – bring up the soft lighting – and we’ve got ourselves a real Christmas! In the process, we get forget the rougher truth – that Jesus was born to an unwed couple, in an unwelcoming town, in an unadorned stable. His people were subject to brutal Roman rule. Innocent boys under the age of two were killed by Herod’s troops, because Herod was paranoid, and terrified by rumors of a newborn king. Shortly after Jesus’ birth the little family fled Bethlehem and became refugees in Egypt.
We are called to remember that the world Jesus entered was harsh, violent, and dangerous. We are called to pray in compassion for those who have felt the terrible sting of that violence in our own world, in our own time. Yet, we are also called to remember that God, in Christ, continues to come – and that violence, fear and misery will not have the last word.
None of us actually live the greeting card life – nor should we try. It’s a fiction disguised as a headline. Glory to God in the highest that in Christ, peace and goodwill come to reign in the form of a vulnerable baby king! May you become one of His great lights and bright hopes this holy season, and in the year to come! God has given us the light. May we use it to banish darkness, and expand the kingdom of hope, of freedom, of peace, and of love!