Tag Archives: Christmas

The Song Only Christmas Can Sing

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2: 10

The Christmas Song

Even that first Christmas, not everyone listened.

Yes, shepherds and wise men hurried to the stable. And warmed by hay-breathed beasts, his love-struck mother leaned close. Just a handful of strangers gazed at a manger, as one star hung low, over the infant below.

Missing Christmas

No doubt, cross the yard, the innkeeper sat hunched over his figures, muttering at taxes and costly repairs. Bedbugs ruin business, as do drunken brawls, heard through the walls. Maybe, for a moment, a strange, ethereal sound made him look up, and he wondered if on top of it all his hearing was going, and wasn’t that how his own dad expired, stone-deaf and tired?

And, we can assume, at least one of his guests tossed and turned in a room, sweat-scented with travelers, come for the census. For the Emperor decreed that all would be counted, and taxes mounted to pay for his glory and luxurious dreams. (Still today, drunk with power, kings are driven by greed to take more than they need).

And that guest maybe wondered why the dark sky grew lighter, a bright beam through the window making it difficult to sleep. They should do something about that, she perhaps moaned to her mattress, a tear wetting her cheek because nothing seemed right, especially at night.

And when a soft baby’s cry disturbed the earth’s slumber, and the angels wondered at Love’s stooping to free us, so we could finally be us (as God planned all along), and burst into song:

“We bring Good News of Great Joy—all of you! Come,  forgotten or famous, broken or bullied, suffering or self-satisfied, deaf, blind, or bitter—listen! The one who will save you—from your own prickly pride, from the darkness that will swallow you, from the mob bent on hardening your once tender heart—to all weary-worn, Christ is born!”

It’s interesting to ponder, just how few responded; the rest just turned over, a pillow on their head, the sleep of the dead.

And this Christmas, will you listen?

This year, as you scroll through internet madness, or search for mall parking, and wonder if this Christmas you’ll stay sober, or if anyone even knows or cares you exist–will you listen? For Jesus is beside you, whispering through your fear, “I am here.”

The carolers still gather, and birds in the chill morning are still singing to Him. The Christmas tree points skyward, the candle flames upward. And if you tune out the chaotic, cruel clamor, and quiet your mind, there you’ll find,

piercing the silence, a song clear and true, calling to you with good news to tell—

All is well.

All is Well, Michael W. Smith


Christmas Is A Puzzle, Not A Pageant

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. ~William Willimon


Christmas is a puzzle, not a pageant.

Christmas is a mystery, not a platform or position, a posture of defiance against an unbelieving world.

Christmas is a paradox, meant to leave us dumb-struck by a gift we didn’t ask for, the gift we needed most of all.

Christmas isn’t for the smug, the satisfied, the sure. So stop humming the melody and listen to the words instead. Let your certainty be rattled. Let your heart find a humbler place.

O holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.

Something has to die before Jesus can be born in us. For we have remade God in our image. It’s time to let him out of the box, to empty him of our narrow assumptions. Let God be God, not a bigger version of us.

Don’t be so sure he is offended by what offends you.

Don’t be so sure he is impressed by what makes you wildly cheer.

Don’t be so sure you know how you would have responded to his coming. That you would have kneeled and not jeered. That you would have wept with joy, not crossed to the other side of the street.

Not sure is the best place to be at Christmas.

Because then we will kneel before the manger and really look. What will we see?

A Puzzle

A baby. An infant, needy and weak. God come down in tears, in hunger, in restless nights, a mother’s soft arms his only dwelling. This prince of heaven watched over by livestock. This brilliant rabbi sharing meals with the despised. This miracle-worker avoiding the applause of the crowd. This eloquent preacher refusing the perks of the popular. This most powerful of all humans allowing human arrogance to do its worst, for our sake.

Every year we forget. We slather our presents, programs and pageants on ourselves when God preferred to present to us a puzzle.

Embrace The Puzzle

Do you long to savor a moment of the true Christmas?

Sit in quiet and remember the infant you still are. Be hungry. Be needy. Be weak and helpless to be anyone important. Recognize your poverty, your limited understanding, the many ways you have yet to grow. Be small, curious, easily delighted and honest in your dismay. Turn your face to love and refuse to look away.

Is it hard? Do you feel more comfortable in the box seats of  the pageant?  If God stooped to  become a child, he can empower you to do the same.

Merry Christmas, my treasured friends. Thank you for joining me as we question and chew on the things that really matter. May you be blessed as you have so blessed me. When life calms down here, we will return to our Alphabet Adagio. Meanwhile, may your Christmas and New Year be puzzling in the best of all ways. Love, Janet.



Why Am I Such A Misfit?

We’re all a little weird. ~Dr. Seuss


Why am I such a misfit, I am not just a nitwit….why don’t I fit in?

Of all the soaring music of the season, this song keeps looping through my brain and I’m not sure why.

In a recent holiday gathering, surrounded by merry-makers, it hit me again. Why do I so often feel out-of-place? A modest Charley Brown pine amidst flashy aluminum glamour. A reindeer born with a peculiar gift. An elf with strange career goals. A misfit toy, banished for my quirks.

To be different is to wear the dreaded cone of shame, and even made-up characters know it. Ask a teenager who dares to wear last year’s fashion, or takes the less-worn path–bullies circle at the first sign of original thought. But most of us are our own bully, pecking like angry hens at our misfitness.

We assume everyone else fits in just fine.

Misfit Embrace

Good news! Tis the season for those who misfit. God has sent his beloved Son, but not to the popular crowd. Born of dubious parentage, in a backwater village, his admirers, smelly, socially awkward shepherds. The important people partied in palaces, while the Who’s Who-less knelt by a manger, warmed by the breath of watchful beasts in a homely barn. Perhaps an angel or two hummed a doxology, hovering just out of sight.

This baby, so special and wise, would gather the misfits to him, an insult to the fabulous and famous. Jesus never taught people to conform, to acquire a team spirit, to try to be like anyone else…except Him. And somehow, in fitting with Him, they become even more radiantly different than before.

In the end we will all look like Jesus, but none of us will look like each other. Why not practice what will be someday, now?

Christmas is about a misfit community you are invited to join. Come as you are, not as you aren’t–it’s the only way to get in.