If you’re living in the States, Thanksgiving is coming soon, normally signaling the clear break for when we can pull out our Christmas decorations and start preparing for the season. But I have a confession to make: I’ve been playing Christmas carols since early November (maybe even very late October).
I know some people have strict rules about the order of holidays, but when you live abroad in a place where Halloween isn’t a big deal and Thanksgiving doesn’t exist, the separation between fall and winter gets blurred. The cold days are short, the nights are long, and you need some Christmas spirit to come a little early.
Thankfully, the city has obliged and has started putting up lights over the streets and garlands around the fountains. But the pretty decorations are not why I celebrate.
Christmas is gritty. We don’t like to think about that though; think about the tree! the tinsel! But the first Christmas was not like that. I celebrate Christmas for the birth of Jesus. For those who believe that Jesus is Lord, He is the light in our darkness, the Savior of the world who was born to die.
I love nativity scenes, and one year, I saw one with a cross placed just above where Jesus lay. When I saw it, it was shocking, but absolutely appropriate. There was a star above the manger, shepherds who came to worship, angels who sang, but surely there was still the shadow of the cross.
Jesus’ birth is more than just a nice story; He came into the darkness of our world to proclaim freedom for the captives and the year of our Lord’s favor. He started a movement that turned the world’s hierarchy on its head. And He came to die for us. Along with gold and frankincense came myrrh, a resin used for preparing bodies. It’s almost as if the bearer of this gift knew what would happen.
But Christmas is also full of hope; it means that we are no longer enslaved, that God has come to dwell with us, and that the One who said “Let there be light” has made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory. The fact that God came to pierce our darkness with His light is something worth celebrating.
The true light has come into the world, and we can rejoice over that any time of the year.