with Christmas just around the corner (yup, just 26 days…!) and all of the merry hustle and bustle that we love to get swept up in, it can be hard to wrap our heads around the distinct and glaring contrast of the peace that the holiday represents with the unrest and injustice going on in our world today.
I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be in a hurry to get Christmas HAPPENING this year. people seem to be putting up their trees and decorations early, more facebook statuses than usual have been posted with an open longing for the season to begin, and it seems that Christmas music was blaring a couple weeks sooner than it typically is.
I don’t think this is chance- I think there’s a very communal and vocal desperation for the beauty of Christmas this year that hasn’t been quite so loud in recent ones. I think our hearts recognize the reverence and sacredness of Christmas, and this year we’re starved for it. we’re stuffed full of shock and sadness and the ugly unapproachable-ness of our current reality, and we’re just so ready for a little peace and hope and rescuing.
I think this is where we need to be.
this year I lovingly unwrapped our olive wood manger scene, carved from the branches of trees that stood in the holy land when and where Jesus walked, and it felt so sacred and holy- moreso than usual. after a new and scary year of terrifyingly pursuing a new Way, a Way that looks and feels more like the one Jesus walked, the desperate and humble beauty of this crudely whittled nativity seemed to break into me bigger than ever.
and I think hard and long about the hard and long journey that this year has been (that it is still), and I feel in my bones this solidarity with Mary over an odyssey we didn’t ask for, a pilgrimage demanded of our weary souls and child-carrying bodies. because when you can’t see the beauty that is the finale, the process feels empty… we sometimes feel empty. empty and weary.
and then I remember the meaning of Bethlehem… “house of bread“. house of the thing that fills. house of the thing that sustains. house of the thing that gives strength.
because the road to Bethlehem is always bitter. ask Mary. ask Mara. it’s always too long, always too hard, always too draining and too emptying. but Bethlehem is the birthplace of our salvation. our Bethlehem is where we find sustenance and strength and newness and filling.
Bethlehem is where Divine Love put on skin, put on the flesh that he’d later call holy and sacred bread… “house of bread” is the coming of the Filler, the Healer, the Sustainer, the Rescuer.
and Bethlehem is always there at the end of the bitter journey.
and Christmas is always available to us when we need it most. accessible because of the Bread, because of the Love Incarnate. free because the Bread was broken. now because He is WITH us.
peace to you, friend ❤