The Gleeful Gourmand: Merry Christmas - A Reflection

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas - A Reflection

"Can you overcome this heart that's overcome?"

That's a line in a song that has been weighing heavily on my heart. We've been watching The Nightly News with Brian Williams a lot lately. Previously I've enjoyed reading my news online, or in paper form, and I still do, but we seem to find ourselves at 6:30 watching it on television with rapt attention. Afterwards, I feel deflated, depressed, and worried for the state of the world. I can't really tell whether or not the world seemed this bleak before I became an adult. Maybe I was blinded by my innocent youth, and our parents viewed the world this way too. Maybe it's because I have children now that the world seems like such an unsafe, terrifying place sometimes.

But only sometimes. Yes, lately the news has got me down. I see a lack of decorum, a lack of compassion. I see and hear of friends and friends of friends who are losing loved ones - loved ones who have little children that need them around right now. It's enough to drive you to tears on a daily basis in terms of heartache. It's enough to drive you to your knees.

But then - it's Christmas. No, I'm not talking about manufactured, ho ho ho Christmas. I'm talking about Christ. It seems a little crazy to me sometimes that within the liturgical year of the Church, we're hit with the joyous season celebrating the birth of Christ, and then just a few short months later we're hit with the unbelievable sadness (but ultimate joy) of the death of Christ. But isn't that just like life? God never promised us that if we believed that life would be fair, or easy. He simply promised that He would be there for us, no matter what happens.

I've been thinking a lot about Mary. Being a mother myself now, I feel I can better understand her - her fear at being pregnant without being married, her fear and trepidation of bearing the Son of God, in a stable no less! And I can completely understand the anguish and complete heartache she must have felt, having to let her son go. He may have been the Son of God, but He was also her son. She must have loved him totally and irrevocably, and even though He was an adult when He died, there is no preparation for losing your child. It's not as though the pain is less because He's lived a longer life, or because He's got, say, a huge job to do like saving the world. He was still her son. And the pain is still unbelievably real.

The state of the world played out on the television may get me down, and it may be hard for all of us to see the forest through the trees, but I think that sometimes the Christmas season can be a beautiful way to wake us up. Yes, it has become too commercial (and there's no finer point on this than ABC cutting short "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to make way for what? More commercials.), but it also shakes most of us out of the depression that takes over after the nightly news is switched off. It shakes us into action to be charitable and help our neighbors as God has called us to do. It shakes us into laughing with our friends and family, and hopefully setting aside old grudges and hurts. It shakes us into fervent prayer for those who need it most, and even those who might not deserve it, but still need it. We're not turning a blind eye to the reality of the world, but we're choosing to live in the joy of the birth of a baby who changed that reality entirely. I wish we could live that way all year round. That we could say honestly, 365 days a year, that the only presents we need are hope, love, and joy.

Below is a spectacular video from one of my favorite Christian rock bands, The David Crowder Band, called "Shine." In the video and in the song, it talks about a man who needs desperately to feel God's closeness. I know far too many people who can relate to these lyrics this Christmas season, but for me it also conveys the hope we have in Jesus, and the hope that we can still run in this world and not grow weary:

"Shine your light so all can see it,
Lift it up, 'cause the whole world needs it,
Love has come, what joy to hear it,
He has overcome, He has overcome."


Kirsten Oliphant said...

What a lovely post! Thanks for writing this reflection. I am right there with ya! Except, I can't handle watching the news.

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