Holy Night! Christmas 2020
Among my earliest—and happiest—memories are the special memories of Christmas. And though there are those who quibble with what they consider to be commercial or crass elements of this festive season, I am simply grateful for every tradition, every carol, every twinkling light that is part of these extraordinary days of Christmas. And that’s never been more true than this year. Like the song says, “We need a little Christmas—right this very minute!”
Central to the celebration of Christmas is the now familiar story of how Jesus was born. On that Holy Night in Bethlehem so long ago, the angels sang and Joseph and Mary were consigned to a stable because there was no room at the inn. It was there that the Christ child was born, surrounded by the shepherds and animals and the unseen angel choir. There was a mysterious visit from wise travelers from the east, and then the desperate flight to Egypt where God protected the Holy Family from those who would harm them. These are foundational stories in my faith and in my life.
Because I learned them from people who loved the stories and loved me, they are stories that are brimming with love and joy. Just telling them lifts my spirits and inspires confidence and hope for the future. Just as each of the Christian Gospel writers had their own way to describe the coming of Christ into the world, each of us have a unique way of retelling the story of that Holy Night. In fact, I think that our individual telling of the story is part of understanding the story.
The Gospel of John skips the nativity story entirely and places the coming of Christ squarely at the center of God’s eternal creative power and authority. Yet it is John, at the end of his own retelling of the story, who writes that if every story about Jesus was told, “even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25, NIV). Our own stories of this Holy Night are among those that fill the whole world with the meaning and spirit of Christmas.
God speaks to my heart at Christmas. The variety of sounds and sights of the holiday may fill my ears and eyes, but in the manger of my heart there is room reserved for the Christ Child, for a Holy Night and His blessed coming into our world and into our lives.
May this season be one of hope and promise for you and those you love. And may this special time carry us with joy into the new year.