New Beginnings at Christmas
Over the next year I will be reading We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren with the Great Bridge United Methodist Church staff. I'll be posting my thoughts for your consideration as we read this book together. I'd love it you read along with us and joined in the conversation.
What is it about Christmas that some many of us get excited about? No other time of the year are we so inundated with holiday cheer, merriment, and happiness. I know one reason is the secularism surrounding Christmas. Christmas advertisements and decorations were being pushed by all of the big-box stores in October.
Barely was the Halloween candy gone before Target and Walmart were decking the halls. We all experience excitement as many of us anxiously awaiting to visit and celebrate with family we have not seen quite enough this year. There are special foods and traditions that one make an appearance during this time of year. And then there are the presents. Most of us over-spend and over-spoil our kids to ensure that this Christmas was a little bit more perfect than the last, hoping to ensure that our children have even better childhood Christmas memories than we do.
I think what makes Christmas so exciting is what Brian McLaren refers to as the celebration of "a new beginning". New beginnings surround us everywhere this time of year.
A new beginning with a family member where words were once used as weapons.
A new beginning as families celebrate Christmas for the first time with a new child.
A new beginning as some will recommit themselves to Christ and to active participation in the local church.
A new beginning when we choose to make the next year better than the last.
Throughout Advent we have been celebrating the Joy, Hope, Peace, and Love that is expected in the birth of the Christ Child. We know that with the birth of this most holy of children we can expect the world to stop for a minute or two. Even those who have little or no faith can acknowledge that there is something special that happened with the birth of Christ.
The acknowledgement of that special something is what I think makes Christmas a time of new beginnings. The holy descending down and entering into our lives, not coming on a chariot or with royal trumpets but instead being born into meager circumstances offers us hope that God has not abandoned us. A new beginning is possible because God has not forsaken us, or abandoned us, or forgotten us in our times of need.
Richard Rohr said, "If God can choose someone as ordinary as me to bear the divine into the wold, then we better be ready to be surprised by where the divine is coming from." In this time of new beginnings we have the opportunity to begin to see the divine, the Christ Child, in places where we would have never expected before. A new beginning is an chance to see anew the child whose birth so changed the world.
Christmas is a time to start a new. A time for new beginnings. And a time for all us to give thanks that we have a God who lived and died the same life that we are enduring today. I pray that over this Christmastide we will all experience the new beginning promised to us in the birth of the Christ Child.