Have you ever thought about how you approach Christmas? Are you aware of your own expectations for the holiday? The traditions of what’s always been done and when you move through the motions they just don’t feel right or work anymore anymore? It’s like Christmas past is bumping up against Christmas present and you don’t even want to fathom Christmas future.
Christmas is fraught with both expectations and memories. It’s one of the few holidays where we use the same materials to create a similar play: the Christmas tree, the gifts, the holiday meal, the relatives. The script is always the same. The pressure is always high to get it right. The choices people make never seem any clearer or better. Nothing changes.
Christmas traditions must always be reinterpreted within the context of current circumstances. Divorce, illness, aging, death, moving, children, no children, and a bunch of other possibilities all create a different set of circumstances which must be factored into each current Christmas.
And it happens every year. Each year, Christmas must be reinterpreted.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1-14
John’s Christmas story is a complete reinterpretation of the old, traditional Christmas story that is read every year. There are no heavenly hosts singing, no shepherds in the fields watching their flocks by night, no star, no stable and manger, no mother and child. It is only the Word.
John’s reinterpretation of the Christmas story is not so much about the birth of Jesus as it is about the birth of God into the world and God giving birth to the world. It’s about God’s creation of the world and all that is in it. It’s about how in the beginning of time, the Word of God became flesh – God incarnate, God with us – all in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Word becoming a human being – being born of flesh and blood to participate in life, to experience struggles, and the events of daily life – to give us an awareness of a life full of grace and truth.
Because of Jesus our lives can be reinterpreted. Because God has come to us in this way, we can reinterpret our pasts and move toward a life lived in the light of truth and grace rather than a life overshadowed by the darkness of our painful memories and experiences. This is the promise behind this amazing birth.
We can reinterpret, rework, rewrite, experience rebirth of our own lives. The light of Christ shines into our darkness. And the darkness did not, does not, and will not overcome it. Ever.
Merry [reinterpreted] Christmas.
How are you reinterpreting Christmas this year?
We are the people that walked in darkness.
We are the people who have seen a great light.
We are the people who have dwelt in the land of the shadow of death.
We are the people upon whom has the light shined. Amen.
Photo credit: NASA Astro Pic of the Day from Chandra X-ray Observatory. This cosmic bubble lies some 5,200 light-years away and covers slightly more sky than a Full Moon.