celebrating hope


God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man…  -Excerpt from The Nicene Creed 


It’s Christmastime, and I don’t feel all too much like celebrating—again.  It will be the fourth one in a row without my children.  In addition, WalMart greeters dressed in blue vests from Washington State to Maine haven’t been proclaiming Merry Christmas for a couple of years now.  Seasons Greetings is now as good as it gets.  Target has politely booted The Salvation Army (I did some research and found out they give them hush money instead—aka corporate donations).  And to top it all off, the life-size Nativity scene is missing out in front of city hall, unless of course it includes an infant sized replica of President-elect Obama lying in the manger. 

Is a national ban on Christmas carols next?

I may not feel all too much like celebrating, but I will nonetheless.  After all, I don’t celebrate because I feel like it.  With horrific epidemics such as AIDS running rampant in places like Africa, global poverty still on the rise, international terror threats hovering over our heads, and genocides in parts of the world such as Darfur—it seems more appropriate to mourn than to celebrate.

But hopelessness is not what we celebrate. 

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!   -Luke 2:15-20

Like the sheepherders, we let loose over the arrival of our Savior: The Savior who came down from heaven and entered all of this hopelessness and injected hope.

We don’t celebrate his coming based on our circumstances.  Irregardless of our current economic position, we can have peace in our hearts.  If we won’t get to cuddle up close to those we love most this Christmastime, we can rest in the loving embrace of a God who loves us more than anything.  And for those of us who mourn, it is us who can celebrate and anticipate the return of our Savior; a Savior who first visited this planet hell-bent on destruction two-thousand years ago.  We celebrate his eminent return in which he will right every wrong and wipe every tear.

So cuddle up with those you do have this year, even if it’s only your loyal dog.  Savor a cup of your favorite coffee.  Bask in a festive evening.  Turn up Bing Crosby singing Silent Night.   Dance in the stary twilight.  Splurge with some creamy eggnog.  Serve your guest a glass of your vintage wine.  Decorate your Douglas-fir.  Order yourself a frosty pint.  Hang a sprig of mistletoe.  Build a happy snowman.  And be sure to have a fattening cookie.

It’s time to celebrate.  

It makes no difference to me whether the greeter at WalMart is permitted to say Merry Christmas, I can still wish her one. The joy of Jesus I have can’t be exhausted because a couple of billionaire scrooges signed off on just another politically correct corporate decision. 

Isn’t it our role as believers to spread the message of hope rather than to depend on a gigantic retailer like WalMart to share hope with those who have no hope? 

We of all people, have something to celebrate.  And it’s not the presents under the tree—be they plentiful or few. 

It’s the hope filled presence of our Lord and King we celebrate.

  1. MB
    December 3, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    I can totally relate and agree with this post. I too have felt like “ba hum bug” this year. I hate commercialism of Christmas…buy, buy, buy. Is that what Jesus’ birth really meant? Wei & Xbox 360’s? Tickle me Elmos? or whatever the latest craze is? BLAH. This year I told everyone not to buy me gifts. I don’t want them. Save your money.

    I did not know that about Target. Hmm..makes me think things through differently. By the way, I like your “post” on your reawakening. I think its during those big losses that we realize the need for Jesus. It’s a hard lesson to learn…I know, I’ve been there too. But if we look hard enough, we see Jesus was always there standing right beside us. How awesome. I’m glad He has reawakened you, just as He has me. God bless.

  2. kenstoll
    December 3, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    MB—I would add that it has been during my hard times anyways, that I have laarned that Jesus is who he said he is and that he is more than enough when I have had nothing and no one else in the world. On a side note, Maybe Target has invited them back for all I know (have not been out shopping this year all that much).

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