Signs of the Times: The Christmas Difference

As I was brainstorming ideas for how I wanted to approach Advent this year, I stumbled across a question that stopped me in my tracks, on the late (and sorely missed) Christian writer Rachel Held-Evans’ blog: When I wake up on Christmas morning, how will I be different?

As Christians we believe that what we celebrate at Christmas is nothing less than the turning point of history: not just the birth of a prophet, but the very presence of God here on earth, living and breathing as one of us. Because of Christmas, we can say that God understands and empathizes with the human experience at the most deep down, essential levels: that God learned to walk, that God argued with his parents, that God had to figure out his place in the world, that God was tempted to do things the easy way. Because of Christmas, we can say that God ate and drank, that God made friends (and enemies), that God was misunderstood, conspired against, betrayed, tortured, and killed. For us as Christians, Christmas changes everything.

Christmas changes history’s meaning: All of history’s triumphs and disappointments are reinterpreted through the eyes of Christmas — ancient stories, rites, and festivals now mere foretastes of what was to come in and through Jesus.

Christmas changes history’s trajectory: The long story of the rise and fall of kings and empires is thrown off course by a baby boy — the old narrative of the strong getting stronger and blessing being about success and wealth is now challenged by a new story about the weak becoming strong and the strong weak, and in which it is the poor in spirit, the grieving, and those who long for justice who are called blessed.

Christmas changes history’s possibilities: The old way of being in the world — based in greed, in strife, in hubris, and in violence — is revealed as not good enough by the revelation of a new way of being in the world inaugurated at Christmas. Jesus opens up a new path, a new ‘meme’ or archetype, a heretofore unimagined existence we call ‘faith‘.

But if we as Christians believe the coming of Jesus changed human history — its meaning, its trajectory, and its possibilities — then how much more must it must change us — and our meaning, our trajectory, and our possibilities — too?

How does the coming of Jesus give my own history new meaning? How will I reinterpret my own story through the eyes of Christmas morning?

How does it change my trajectory? How does the coming of Jesus change the direction of my life: my desires, my goals?

How does Christmas open my eyes to new possibilities? What creativity, what potential does the coming of Jesus unlock for and within me?

When I wake up on Christmas morning, how will I be different?

The month before Christmas is always a busy time and no matter how good our intentions may be, it’s easy for ‘spirirtual’ matters to get overwhelmed by practical considerations. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering midweek reflections designed to help us (me most of all) pause and reflect on these deeper questions of Advent.

When I wake up on Christmas morning, how will I be different?

4 thoughts on “Signs of the Times: The Christmas Difference

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