Why bother with Christmas?
In the coming weeks we will be inundated with many stories and images of families celebrating a glorious, joyful Christmas with amazing food and beautiful houses. I feel uneasy. No, it isn’t the exquisite decorations or the wonderful menus that made me uneasy. It was the image of happy families coming together with peace, harmony and joy. I wish all people well for whom this reflects their experience of Christmas. But for many families Christmas it is not like that. Christmas is a minefield where they try to make peace and harmony through many and various challenges. Estrangements, addictions, mental illness, grief from deaths through the past year are just some of the major hurdles that have to be faced. Then add the ‘lesser challenges’ of over-excited children, too much food, too much alcohol (leading to free and frank discussion) and one sometimes wonders why we bother?
We bother because that is the meaning of Christmas. When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph did not provide the ideal conditions, – life was beyond their control – but they did the best they could. Those who worshipped, shepherds and foreigners, were despised outsiders, and the threat of violence was in the air. That is the world God chose to be born in – a world like ours with its mess, muddle and pain. God is comfortable there; God knows how to handle it. So when we feel overwhelmed, let us turn to God and pray: ‘Be born in us this day.’ Be born in our mess muddle and pain. Be born in our challenging relationships. And if everything isn’t ‘happy families’ we can still know that God is with us – Immanuel. Come Lord Jesus, be born in us this day.
Loving God, you sent your son Jesus into our midst, experiencing the pain and challenges that we have to face. Knowing him to be our brother may we turn to him this Christmas when our cares overwhelm us. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb