Christmas is a time we celebrate the birth of Christ and the return of Jesus to make all things new. Sometimes during this holiday, we tend to re-write the Christmas story as a beautiful, peaceful time that the world quieted for a moment. We can include all the positive details of the story (angels trumpeting, shepherds and magi worshiping, “all is calm all is bright”), but forget the darker details (no room for the birth of a child, being placed in a bed where animals feed, Herod seeking the death of Christ and killing the children in Bethlehem) We do a disservice to the real story of Christmas as it reminds us that Jesus did not come into a bright world but a dark one, and that his light shines so brightly because all was not bright but dark. N.T. Wright put it this way:
“For many, Christianity is just a beautiful dream. It’s a world in which everyday reality goes a bit blurred. It’s nostalgic, cozy and comforting. But real Christianity isn’t like that at all. Take Christmas, for instance: a season of nostalgia, of carols and candles and firelight and happy children. But that misses the point completely. Christmas is not a reminder that the world is really quite a nice old place. It reminds us that the world is a shockingly bad old place, where wickedness flourishes unchecked, where children are murdered…
Christmas is God lighting a candle; and you don’t light a candle in a room that’s already full of sunlight. You light a candle in a room that’s so murky that the candle, when lit, reveals just how bad things really are. The light shines in the darkness, says St. John, and the darkness has not overcome it. Christmas, then, is not a dream, a moment of escapism. Christmas is the reality, which shows up the rest of reality.”
As we approach this day of celebration let us remember what we are truly celebrating, that the darkness in this world, the reality of our lives being controlled by sin and death are not the end of the story, but that Jesus came to break the power of sin and death. The true Christmas story is a glorious story because with all the darkness around us, a light has shined, and it will not be overcome. Praise be to the Lord our Jesus Christ as we celebrate his coming!
Do you see this tendency to white wash the Christmas story?
What does that say about our understanding of the gospel?