The Uncomfortable Christmas


''A cosmic philosophy is not constructedto fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.'' G. K. Chesterton

If you're old enough to hold a job, chances are you realize the Christmas season is a bit of a mixed bag.

After thirteen or so,  you stop ordering your morning around the advent calendar and you probably don't insist on wearing antlers when you go out in public.  You learn to accept the good (cookie plates, white elephant parties, family laughs) with the less-than-good (fruitcake, parties with bad music, family misunderstandings).

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, accepting the good and the bad is a natural part of aging.

However, a similar morphing happens with our spiritual life at Christmas.  As children, we accept and celebrate the birth of Jesus because we understand the excitement of a baby's birth.  However, as adults, when we really think about it, the entire story is troubling.

We sing about a virgin and a silent, holy night, but as kids, we don't know what those words mean. As adults, the miraculousness of this claim makes us cringe because, quite frankly, miracles make us cringe.

As children we kind of like the idea of having a baby near animals. For health-conscious adults, we wonder why God couldn't pull off a better environment for his son.

When we're young, we skip past details about the name of the Roman Caesar and Syrian governor. But as grownups we see that the details imply the story is rooted in a specific time and place.

As kids, we often lose sight of the "meaning" of Christmas. As adults, we pray the meaning of Christmas hasn't lost sight of us.

The story is uncomfortable because it doesn't fit any of our cultural sensibilities. It seems that God purposefully decided to be counter-cultural with his entire approach.

If you're a reasonable, semi-responsible person, the story feels worse than far-fetched; it feels risky and reckless.

What kind of God are we dealing with?

Who decides to have a teenage girl be the star of the story? Why are the specifics tied to ancient Hebrew scriptures? Who would include an infant genocide as part of this narrative?

Who are we dealing with?

That's the big, audacious, uncomfortable question of Christmas.

Wherever you are this December, I hope it's a question you wrestle with in order to make the season not only bright, but meaningful.