Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that every Christmas seems to be accompanied by truly awful news? Not that everything is wonderful in our world the rest of the year. But it seems every December something horrible happens.
It happened in 1941 on December 7, a Sunday. The Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor and suddenly we were at war. My mom was 10. Her dad delivered the news and her first question was, “Do we still get to have Christmas?”
Two years ago we had the Sandy Hook massacre. This year we had many more children murdered in a school in Pakistan. And then Saturday, the murder of those two police officers in New York City.
Maybe I should turn off the news and immerse myself in those non-stop Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. They always seem to have a feel-good happy ending. I wonder. Is that all Christmas really is? A feel good story to distract us from all in our world that is anything but good?
No. Christmas is not that. As a matter of fact, the murder of small children is part of the Christmas story. Christmas is not an escape. So what is Christmas? Here’s how Halford Luccock answered that question (he wrote this before we knew about inclusive language):
Christmas is the foundation of the world’s hope. It is not man’s best dream, not man reaching up, but God reaching down. It is the revelation that at the center of the universe is an undefeatable power of love on which men can rely and to which that can join their efforts. The Christmas faith and hope are all wrapped up in one word, Immanuel — God with us.
In other words, Christmas is not an escape from the world. Christmas is God entering our world. Even though there is much in our world that is truly awful, God is also in our world. So we have hope. And in that hope we can partner with God to build a better, more loving world.
Even in this world where hate is so powerful, the answer to my mom’s question, “Do we still get to have Christmas?” is: Yes, we do! And thank God we do!