As I write this article, it is less than a week following a very difficult, tumultuous, even divisive Presidential election, and a lot of folks from all sides of the electorate are feeling stress and tension as we look towards the days and weeks to come.

As you read this article, it will be early December, the election will have hopefully faded somewhat in terms of tension and stress as we come together once again as the great nation we are, and those same folks stressed in November will be feeling a whole new and different kind of stress and tension – the stress and tension associated with the secular Christmas Holiday Season.

You know that stress – the gifts to buy and wrap and distribute; the decorations to get out, acquire, and then put up; the celebrations and get togethers to plan, attend, and recover from; and the incessant Christmas music that is everywhere (how many versions of “Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart” are there, anyway?).

The thing is, it is precisely into a world filled with tension, strife, stress, conflict, doubt, despair, and grief, a world rent apart by dissension and division, a world struggling with sorrow and pain, hurt and fear, that the Christ child is born.

Christmas, in the Christian sense, is not a pretty Christmas card photo and sentiment.  Christmas is God being born, as an all too human baby, into our all too human reality.  Into the midst of everything that is wrong, and bad, and torn, and hurting. Into our strife and stress.  Into our tension and anxiety.  Into our dissensions and divisions.

Christmas is about reality, our reality, the good and bad of it all. It is about God becoming one with us in the midst of that reality, by becoming one of us dealing with that reality.

Christmas is God meeting us where we are, in the depths of our human reality, joining with us to face that reality, bringing hope and comfort, peace and strength within that reality, and saying to us – I am with you.

In the midst of it all, I am with you.  In all that you do, in all that you achieve, in all that you are, in all that you hope to be, in all that it is to be you – I am with you.

Christmas is God embracing us in our humanity, embracing us as we truly are, embracing us with divine love that changes us, restores us, delivers us, heals us, and transforms us.

Christmas is God coming down to us, becoming one of us, uniting with us.  Christmas is God showing the depths of love, the power of love, the limitlessness of love, because when it’s all said and done, the baby in the manger is love incarnate.  Love in the flesh.  God’s love, in our flesh.  God with us, in love, to show us real love.

Christmas is God’s great “I LOVE YOU!!!!”  And it is spoken to us, given to us, in the midst of the season’s stress and tension and anxiety, in the midst of life’s stress and tension and anxiety. It is spoken to us, given to us, without condition, without limit, without end.  Holidays come and go, the love of God in Jesus, the love of God in the Holy Infant, is eternal.

I hope you have the most happy, blessed, joyous Christmas possible!  I pray the love God sends to you in the Holy Infant Jesus fills you every day of the year, every moment of your life!  Merry Christmas!!

Pr. Paul

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