These are some divided times. If the aftermath of the recent election is any indication, tensions are not looking to ease any time soon. Racial tension, religious strife around the world, fake news, and angry mobs seem to dominate the headlines. Then there are the heart-breaking images out of Aleppo, the assassination of a Russian ambassador, and a terror attack in Berlin.
Just about the time when no one could blame you for losing hope, enter Christmas - a beautiful time of peace and celebration among the chaos and darkness of the world in which we live. And it’s not only a time of joy for Christians. It seems the rest of the world is ready for some light as well. Did you happen to catch the worship song that was performed on network television’s Saturday Night Live this week? It wasn’t a joke or the mockery you’d expect from SNL; it was a prayerful, worshipful and powerful performance by the very well-respected musician, Chance the Rapper. It celebrated Jesus and Christmas, and the audience couldn’t get enough. Or did you happen to see the news article about the Muslim businessman in Iran who erected the largest Christmas tree in Baghdad, to show solidarity with persecuted Christians? It is easy for us to forget that a light in the darkness is visible to everyone, not just the ones who acknowledge its source.
Let me say it again. Christmas is a moment of beauty in a world of chaos. I’m not necessarily talking about our own personal chaos, like busy schedules around the holidays, but real chaos, like the things I mentioned earlier. This is a call to look beyond ourselves, our own agendas, our own messes, like looking above the immediate haze and seeing the bigger picture. The world is ready for light and beauty and peace and rest. The problem is that it is just as easy for us to bring more darkness, more division, more unrest. As Christians, we often feel like we are on the defensive, like our liberties are being attacked and we need to fight for every inch. Here’s the thing - Jesus was born into some pretty hostile territory, with a ruler that wanted him dead and a population that didn’t think it needed him. But his message was to love your enemies. The light that we can bring is love. We can love the homeless, the drug addicts, the morally corrupt, the weak, the vulnerable, people who believe differently than we do, the poor in spirit, the poor in wallet, the broken, the oppressed. The world is looking for light this Christmas, and they should see it reflecting off of us.
What better way to spend the holiday than truly loving the people around you. Christmas is a time of beauty in an otherwise dark world, and we should be intentional in celebrating it well.