The message that Christmas is coming is everywhere we turn right now! There's even a song announcing that, “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat......” In the face of all the proclamations that Christmas is coming soon, I am sorry to break the news to you--Christmas is in fact not coming. Now before you dismiss me for what may seem like a Scrooge-like spirit, allow me to explain. Any talk about “Christmas is coming” is of course referring to the approaching date of December 25th. The day on which we celebrate Christmas is, in fact, coming soon. But Christmas is much more than a date on a calendar. Christmas is an event that occurred two thousand years ago manifesting the promise that God is with us, that God's light has come into the darkness and that the light is more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. When we refer to this meaning of Christmas, then Christmas is not coming. It's not coming because it's already here. It already came and it has never left. It can be difficult, especially for children, to wait for the date to come when we can finally celebrate Christmas. When we remember though that Christmas is already here, then we no longer need to wait for Christmas to come--instead it is we who need to come to Christmas. We are choosing to come to Christmas when we believe that love is stronger than violence, when we we forgive someone who has hurt us, when we work to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and when we give the gift of ourselves--our hearts and souls--to someone we love.
One of the messages and promises of Christmas is, “Peace on Earth.” In light of the terrible violence that occurred last week in Newtown, Connecticut we find ourselves acutely longing for that peace. We don't have to passively long or wait for this “Peace on Earth” to come to us though, just as we don't have to wait for the true meaning of Christmas to come. We have already been given this Peace, and along with it the complete freedom and responsibility to make it a reality in our culture--in our homes, in our schools, and our society as a whole. When “Peace on Earth” is lacking, it is not a reflection on God, but on us. We need to do more than wait and pray for this Peace; we need to courageously change and act to do our part in making this Peace more present in our world, whatever it takes. When it comes to protecting our children, as our President said last week, “Surely we can do better than this.”
If you are looking for something specific and concrete that you can do to promote peace in response to the violence in Newtown, here's one suggestion. Reach out to two or three young people that you know outside of your family and build a supportive, caring relationship with them. Young people are formed not just by their families, but the many other adults in their lives with whom they come in contact. Our young people need and desire honest, caring relationships with adults and by connecting with them we can help give them the safety and guidance they need to grow up to be healthy, happy, and peaceful. Actively seeking a young person to care for is one concrete way of choosing to “come to Christmas.” Peace on earth, also includes peace in our homes and in our families. The holidays often serve as a magnifying glass for whatever stress and lack of peace we may be experiencing in our closest friendships and family relationships. We may find ourselves wishing for healing and reconciliation with someone who has hurt us, or whom we have hurt. Again, we need to be careful that our wishing doesn't make us passive. Reconciliation doesn't just come to us; we need to actively seek out and do our part to create the healing and reconciliation that we desire. So while we wait a few more days for December 25th to arrive, let us celebrate right now the good news that Christmas is already here! It is right here, fully present in, and amongst, the broken places in our lives, our relationships, and our world. We don't have to wait any longer for it come. Like the shepherds and the wise people before, we need to make the decision to come to Christmas. May each of us do our small, but important part, in creating Peace on Earth by coming to Christmas not just on December 25th, but every day of the year. From all of us at Living Compass, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!