One year ago Christmas was as it always was. The hustle and bustle of gift shopping, tree and house decorations, cards coming and going, the anticipation of children as they looked forward to the Christmas break from school. Packed Churches in celebration of the Nativity of Christ attended by family adorned in their better that Sunday best. The opening of Christmas morning gifts by excited Children as they awaited grandma, grandpa and other family members to share a Christmas feast.
Fast forward to the Christmas that lies before us clouded over by the pandemic that invaded our land and the entire world just after Christmas 2019. We shop for gifts online. Children look forward to returning to in person classes with friends, that they have been attending virtually alone. Though we decorate and still send cards, many will not be able to share them with others as has been true in the past. Churches, for those allowed to open, will worship and welcome the New Born Christ with 1/3 capacity. The distance between one another only accentuates our present national divide. The excitement of a child’s Christmas morning must be shared with grandparents from afar in fear of bringing ill upon them. The one time Christmas feast seems a fast. All that we have taken for granted, once the shadow of this moment in history has passed, will not likely be so taken for granted again, I dare say.
Yet we are not alone in our trials. For the first Christmas had its own vexations. Mary was with child as she chose to accompany her husband Joseph to his birthplace, Bethlehem, for the census decreed by Rome. They suffered a long and arduous trip far from family and home. Having arrived at their destination, the saddest of all phrases ever uttered greeted the soon to be savior of the world: “There was no room in the inn.” So in a cave beneath the earth, shared not by family but by domestic animals, the Son of God would descend upon His creation. His crib was a trough from which the animals fed softened by hay found within. Not immediate family, but the most common representatives of the family of man would be the first visitors to witness this first Christmas morn.
The state of the world was no better then than it is today. All have their own weight to carry, whether it be by the individual, nation or world. But, on that first Christmas a promise was kept. The harbinger of reconciliation between God and mankind had arrived. The veil that separates this world from heaven since The Fall, was briefly lifted to usher in the Son of Man in the Word Made Flesh. Shone upon Him was the light of God’s love from which has come The Light of the World. Man would no longer be in darkness but bathed in this celestial light. And mankind’s vision of life’s challenges from that point on would be so altered. For now an agent goes before us all to temper what pain may come forth from any natural or unnatural misfortunes and thus render the once unbearable, bearable. And convert the fearful to fearless.
No matter what our present reality is, determined by this time and circumstance, the same is true of each Christmas. At the end of each Advent the weight of our tribulations are greatly diminished, for the infant in that crib has come to bear our burdens. Though the loss of loved ones by various means, the illness of many, unemployment or loss of business and livelihood, separation from family, and the temporary loss of our very way of life may have many teetering on the brink of despair, there is yet reason to take heart, rejoice and be glad. For from the strains of the Christmas Carol, ‘Silent Night”, be it known to all, with certainty, that in the Christ Child: “All is calm, all is bright.”