drawing by Ed Fisher, as it appeared in the New Yorker magazine
Christmas is here. For many folks, this cartoon captures how many of us feel as the season of shopping and preparing comes to a close: crowded, pushed around, and not all that good.
I laugh at the last line of the caption underneath: once the train is in motion start singing. We've all packed too many people, places and things into a small window of time, and then we are told to sing. As if being merry is something that we can be commanded to do!
We resist, for good reasons. Dictating the feelings and emotions of others does not work. Some people find it hard to be merry all of the time during this time of the year. Memories are strong, right now, and those memories take us back to when loved ones were still with us and things were different. The holidays can be difficult. I believe we must be ever vigilant to reach out to those who are living with grief and loss and extend our care and compassion, especially now.
The cartoon busyness of the modern American holidays also leaves out the room we need to be awed by that first Christmas. The versions from Matthew and Luke are both filled with moments of surprise and wonder. Elizabeth and Zechariah get the surprise of the their lives, when told they have have a son named John, who comes to prepare the world for the Christ. Later, there were angels making startling announcements to both Mary and Joseph. An angelic chorus directs shepherds to a cave used as a stable, of all places, to find a child just born. All the while, we're told God's plan to redeem all of the world is being carried out. The first Christmas was anything but routine and hectic.
In the midst of all of the emotions and busyness of the season, may we move at our own pace toward the scene being played out before us. May we gaze with awe at how the God of the Universe is choosing to reveal himself to us this year. Grace and Peace to you, Scott.