We woke up to snow this morning...not a lot, and its not going to be here longer than another hour or so, but its enough to legitimize the season just a bit more. Even with the unexpected arrival, it's generally gray and dreary here. The news of four more funerals on the other side of the country make it even more so. It makes me wonder.... If a simple dusting of snow enhances my picture of Christmas, what can possibly speak into lives a few time zones away that have been dumped on by a blizzard of heart wrenching loss? One part of me...the human and frail part ...imagines that the loss is magnified by the season. I mean really, isn't this the season of love, charity, peace, giving, and all the niceties of humanity? It was a bit difficult to defend this view on Friday afternoon. Isn't this the season where family and friends gather together? It is a bit difficult to hold on to this when family and friends are taken away. Isn't it about gifts and giving, sales and socks? And yet there will be dozens of unopened gifts under those trees...purchased for those who won't be celebrating in our midst. The human and flawed parts of me come up empty. For those whose view of Christmas are all of those things that we've comfortably hung our stockings on over the years because we can touch them, see them, use them...for those of us who view the season in such simplistic earthly terms, there remains only a black hole that threatens to suck all meaning away. That is my human response.
How thankful I am that my humanity is not all that sustains me. I am in fact human...only a few would object to that...but more importantly and profoundly, I am spiritual. For me, even in the midst of sorrow and questions, one thing that I am sure of is this; the fact that this season does exist is the whole point of the season itself. What I mean is that the season exists because Jesus exists. This season, despite all of those who might want to hijack it and claim it as their own, is all about the birth of the one known as Emmanuel "God with us". Lest I be labeled "not PC" let me just say that the other religious and otherwise holidays that have clamored into this time period all have value. They hold strength in various ways for people who follow them...but they are not Christmas. They do not celebrate or even acknowledge the birth of "God with us". They are good and sincere ways to honor various religious beliefs, but they do not offer the solution of "light born into darkness" and we are certainly living in a certain degree of darkness.
This season, beyond a dusting of snow, socks and sales is about a God who is with us. The theological truth is that God is not a far off entity. He cries with us during unimaginable loss. He stands with us in the face of incomprehensible evil. He enables us to dig out from the blizzards that threaten to bury us. He, and the people spurred by His spirit, offer light in a darkness that threatens to consume us. He doesn't will it...it's not a punishment...he is not vacant or vindictive.