Christmas! Yes, a time to Rejoice! We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic families enjoying hot chocolate around a stocking-strewn hearth. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, living in suburban bliss. They did not get lost on the way home because of the GPS they got last year. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic, curled up on the couch with their family in front of their enormous flat-screen.
We live and act as if these are the people who should be enjoying Christmas, but none of this really makes any sense. Christmas—the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer—is for everyone, especially those who need to be rescued. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshipers were not the Beautiful People. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beaten down by life and labor, whom people looked down their noses at.
Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art supplies. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in all the wrong places. Christmas is for college students who sit in the midst of their family and cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want to go home but cannot imagine they would get a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.
Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.
Pastor Ben Hiwale