Today half of the Christian world celebrates Christmas. Some are enjoying lavish tables bursting under the weight of the feast surrounded by loving friends and family. Unwrapping the generosity and goodness of our God in its many shapes and sizes. It’s like heaven has opened its door and poured its favor of those thus blessed.
Others… not so much.
No loving family. Or at least no loving. No friends. No feast. No presents. Or, even worse, some are actually given the gifts nobody wants - the duds of Christmas... sickness, separations, loss or death.
Some may feel that year after year this Christmas thing is overpromising and underdelivering.
Sure, there are few who may have gotten joy but certainly not all.
For the past twenty some years, I’ve been celebrating Christmas far away from home. Among people who speak a language not my own. As a foreigner with a foreign accent.
The food is different here. The culture is different. The protocol is different. Different customs, different values, different expectations, different mindset, the whole shebang is different!
I feel like I am constantly out of alignment with the world around me.
During Christmas this becomes painfully obvious.
It’s probably the most frustrating, stressful, discombobulated season of the year.
I feel like the kid in a Christmas play who sings out of tune, who dances in the opposite direction from everyone else.
Awkward, annoying and frustrating not just for him but for everyone else around him.
Sometimes it feels all I get - and give! - for Christmas is a giant bag of coals!
Which makes me wonder if Christmas has anything to offer for the misfits like me...?
A genuine joy in the midst of discordant circumstances?
Then it crosses my mind… that’s what Christmas is all about! The ultimate, all-out cross-cultural experience – God of Heaven inhabiting human world, God living in a foreign country, speaking with a foreign accent. God the Misfit! With the background nobody understands or can relate to. God being misunderstood. Misinterpreted. Violating the rules and the customs, upsetting the tradition basket.
Suddenly, my Christmas bag of coals doesn’t seem like a bag of coals any more… It’s more like a pot of pure gold…. and with that, the Merry inhabits Christmas again.
… for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-12