It’s finally over. All those people making six dollars and forty-eight cents an hour at Wal-Mart and Target who haven’t seen their families for a month, are home now. The streets are nearly empty, the only traffic out-of-town children slowly driving down once-familiar streets. The tawdry, embarrassing, maddening Christmas season is finally, blessedly over.
Just in time for Christmas.
The one there’s no war on. The one that has nothing to do with strings of lights, giant blow-up Santa lawn bubbles, or the consumer confidence index. The season that celebrates the story of a peasant girl who gave birth to a child of dubious paternity. The season whose celebrants believe that her baby, born in a no account town in a backwater Roman province, changed the world forever.
Christmas is just that: a Christ Mass, a liturgical theatre of the absurd notion that God decided to inhabit the world in the person of a Judean carpenter-cum-rabbi. Looking for the “real meaning of Christmas?” This is it: Luke’s ancient tale of the family from Nazareth, gone down to Bethlehem, to pay taxes to the Empire. The manger, the shepherds, the heavenly host, the cows, and sheep and the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, the entire cast and crew of the turning inside out of the universe. Where shepherds hear angels and a little girl bears a God in a feed trough. Where God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry with good things, sent the rich away empty and on earth brought peace and good will.
This is the night when even our rich, powerful, haughty souls can magnify the Lord.