The events surrounding Jesus’ birth hardly shout a ‘Merry Christmas’. If Mary and Joseph post a Christmas letter, it will include some rather disruptive details. You know them. The unexpected pregnancy, especially since they hadn’t sexually consummated their marriage. The accompanying whispers, rumors and stares of gloating, nosey neighbors and family.
The rotten timing of Rome’s census/tax business. The arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which winds up having no room in which to stay, not even in some crummy hostel. Only a stinky stable with its foul ball feeding trough in which to cradle this child.
And guess who shows up to wonder at the babe but some unknown, uninvited shepherds, whose acrid aromas fill the air. Later on a bunch of astrologer-types, wearing strange outfits, show up from somewhere back East. At least their gifts amount to a small treasure trove. Maybe it will be a Merry Christmas after all!
But no, it’s off to Egypt they must flee, avoiding King Herod’s paranoid slaughter of innocent children. Exiles now far from home, work, family and friends. Now you know why no letter may be included in their Christmas cards.
However, what can be said is that in spite of everything, Jesus’ unassuming arrival into this battered and broken world is the best news ever. Troubles will not win in the end. They won’t grab hold of the upper hand. Not for long. So, we’ll say a hearty ‘Merry Christmas’ wherever we go, whatever we’re going through. Whether anyone likes it or not. Merry…Christmas!
When clouds roll in and storms lash away at us, let’s focus on Jesus more than ever. Joining those shepherds and Magi surrounding that very humble family, gazing with wonder at God’s gift that Christmas day.
Have a ‘Merry Christmas’! We are so blessed! Aren’t we?
Father, thank you for the gift of Jesus, our Savior. In His name. Amen.