I recently read a note from someone saying, “I’m not big on Jesus Christ, but I like the family gatherings and gift-giving part of Christmas and the spirituality of it.”
Poor maligned Jesus, always getting the blame for the wrongs others do. It’s not Jesus I have trouble with; it’s the many people who go around spouting how Jesus is their best friend while they act like the devil himself. You know who I am talking about. They have been on public display for four years now. A goodly number of them just voted to deny help to the hungry and the hurting.
One of my girlfriends told me earlier this year that she’s had a hard time praying since Satan moved into the White House. I didn’t chide her. I told her I understood.
It’s like when a bully moves into a neighborhood and hurts all the other children. It’s really hard not to put the blame on the parents of that bully. Why don’t they do something to stop their boy from acting so ugly? That’s kind of how it is with God. It’s hard not to ask God why he doesn’t do something to put an end to all the wrongdoing Trump has done. Plus, it’s difficult because these people who act the devil keep claiming to be BFFs of Jesus.
Cognitive Dissonance is a real phenomenon.
I will admit that this Christmas, just like this entire year, feels wonky to me. Unlike millions of others, we took to heart the message to not travel and to not gather. We are staying within our bubble, not out of fear but out of respect for our healthcare professionals. The last thing they need right now is more work. We have several family members who work in healthcare and I currently have several friends dealing with Covid.
So home it is.
And it was while we were at home this week that I witnessed what Jesus represents to me.
Our daughter and granddaughter (who have been part of our bubble throughout the pandemic) were playing a game. My daughter stretched her arms out wide and Miss M would run to her mother with her own arms outstretched, fall into mother’s open arms, then the two would embrace.
They did this again and again, erupting into laughter each time.
I didn’t say anything as I watched them. I just sat in my office and thought: “This is how God greets us.”
It is how God greeted his son after his body was broken.
It is how Creator greets each of us after our bodies are broken and our spirits are weakened.
She throws open her arms and wraps us in a loving embrace.
Many of us will be missing the family gatherings this Christmas. Many of us have forgone the gift exchange. Many of us will be mourning those whom we can no longer embrace, will never again embrace this side of Glory. Hundreds of thousands will be mourning ones lost to Covid. Too many will spend the day worrying about impending bills or potential evictions. Too many will spend the holidays utterly alone.
In a year when loving hugs have been denied us, the image of Creator God wrapping us in a tender embrace and laughing with glee over the opportunity to hold us close is the vision I share with all of you this Holiday Season.
Merry Christmas, friends. I look forward to when I can hug you again.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Christian Bend (Mercer University Press).