by Scott Sutton
Fun fact: I hate Christmas. No, that’s not right. I hated Christmas. I hated how stressful it always is, when it is supposed to be about silent nights. I hated how consumeristic it is, when it is supposed to be about a baby born in poverty. I hated how so many of its symbols and traditions have nothing to do with Jesus, even though the entire holiday is supposed to be about Jesus. I still hate those things, even as I type this surrounded by a Christmas tree, stockings hung by the fire with care, and an army of nutcrackers staring stoically into my soul.
But I don’t hate Christmas anymore.
No, I’ve learned that I need Christmas far too much to hate it.
I need the God who steps into the muck and mire of our world. The thrill of hope. Peace on earth. I need the light to turn the tide of darkness.
It’s no coincidence that December 25 was selected as the date to celebrate Christmas, even though it probably wasn’t Jesus’ actual birthdate. It was chosen because it follows the winter solstice. Every day leading up to December 25 gets shorter and shorter while the nights grow longer and longer. If that trend were to continue, eventually there would only be night and darkness. But on December 25, darkness’ advance is halted. The tide is turned. Light begins its advance.
I find Christmas in light advancing.
Darkness holds no power over light. Wherever there is light, the darkness scatters. This is the promise of Christmas. This is where we place our hope – in this revolutionary notion that darkness cannot drive out darkness; that only light can drive out darkness. If we try to use the tactics of darkness to drive out darkness, we have only succeeded in creating more darkness. Light alone drives out darkness. And it isn’t a light we can define on our own terms or summon by our own strength. It is a light that comes to mangers, to the unwanted couple with a baby on the way, to stank shepherds tending flocks in the wilderness, to foreigners gazing curiously toward the heavens, to radicals who forsake the ‘normal’ life to prepare the way for something greater.
In a twist of irony, if we want to find light, we must humbly seek out the places within ourselves where darkness clings. And wherever we find darkness we invite the Light in. This is the light we then carry into the dark places of the world. And nothing is ever the same again.
This is Christmas.
Want More? Check out our newest series: The Covenant of Christ
The Covenant of Christ- Week 1
Scripture Reference: Lev 16:1-4
The holiness of God makes sin a serious problem
Scripture Reference: Lev 16:6-10,15-16
Sin requires a sacrifice
Scripture Reference: Lev 16:20-22
Sin results in isolation from God
Jesus became “both goats” and the high priest
Questions to Ponder
What struck you the most about the Day of Atonement ritual?
Why is sin such a big deal?
How does Jesus compare to the two goats and Aaron?