Receiving Christmas

A simple “be it unto me” is not easy when God’s will is not birth but death.

As I sang the carols at our Christmas Eve service last night, I realized Christmas is not something you can make. It has to be given to you. All my baking and cleaning and even self-reflection mean nothing unless I hear the Christmas tidings echoed back to me from the voice of another. What connects me to the nativity is the chain of people who followed the shepherds and magi to worship, allowing me to walk the advent path and follow their footsteps to the manger. I hear their whispers from the past, faint strains from their songs. I hear them now, clear voices in the candlelit church, coming to adore Him together. I see them now, across the dinner table, hands passing and giving and loving. They give the story to me, wrapping it in laughter and tears and layers of packing tape. I receive the holy child through the hands of his children, some hands young and smooth, others worn and weary.

I must open my hands, my heart, the womb of my soul. I must receive Christ Himself, whatever His coming may bring.

This Christmas, we who love each other most have a difficult gift to bear – that of caring for a dying father, husband, grandpa. We cannot make this Christmas anything else than what it is. We receive the day with its joy and sorrow. For Christ is born here too, into a dying man’s fragile arms. We wrap him in blankets and place him in a homemade hospital bed, because we have made room for him here.

And somehow we manage to pray, “be it unto us,” knowing that God’s will always brings life, that the peace and gloria of the angels never grows dim even in our darkness. We have indeed seen a great light. We know peace in death, and that is not of our own making. Glory to God in the highest.

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