Pastor's Letter - December
Greetings to you from God our Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, the promised one who we await once again.
Just a warning: I am bound to offend someone by what I am about to say. I know that many people love these things, but I have to share something with you.
I cannot stand Hallmark Christmas movies. Right now, they are on an endless stream in my house. When it's not baseball season, Michelle controls the remote, which means I have now experienced "Christmas with Holly", "Love's Christmas Jouney", "A Boyfriend for Christmas" (gag), "A Royal Christmas", and if this keeps going, I will eventually get to see "A James Bond Christmas" or something.
I didn't always roll my eyes when I looked at the television and saw one of these movies playing. They didn't bother me one way or another. But when it's the same story played out 1,000 times? Well, there's a reason that I pull up my iPad, fire up Netflix, and start watching Cheers reruns.
Here's what I think: The way Christmas is marketed, and yes, these movies play a role, is not real life. Real Christmas doesn't always have snow, nor does it involve some disjointed city girl who just needs a good country boy to complete her life. Nor does it have to have the perfectly decorated (and natural!) tree, filled with carolers who all sing on key. Nor does it involve our town coming together and singing around a big lighted tree that has somehow stayed perfect throughout the messy snow and slush.
The Christmas story is dirty. It is about Jesus coming into the world where there was no place for Mary and Joseph to stay. It involves both Mary and Joseph going to a place to be registered against their will. It involves a woman having a child that is not biologically her husband's. And the setting! In a manger, with dirty, smelly animals.
As a culture, we like to put a nice bright ribbon on everything. I think that's a little unfair, and I think it sets us up to an unrealistic standard. Your Christmas might be messy. Maybe you can't find the present you intend to give someone. Maybe you'll be in the midst of an argument. Hey, maybe even the argument happens when the family gathers around the table for a meal! Maybe you'll be struggling with something that won't get resolved in the span of 2 hours like in those movies.
I'm here to tell you that that's okay. Christmas is messy. And the good news is, regardless of if you have the "perfect" Christmas or not (and trust me, you won't), Christ still comes. Christ still comes for you, me, and all who need him. Christ comes to lead us to a path where we experience true goodness, not just things that look good.
So Peace be to you this December as we await the coming of the Christ child. Peace to you in the good moments, and in the less than perfect moments. Live knowing that Christ is coming, and he is coming to save all of us. Amen.