A Desire for the Familiar this Christmas

I’m writing this on the day that the Electoral College meets to officially name Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Typically, this moment goes by without so much as a yawn, but with all the challenges that have accompanied this election, I guess you never know what to expect.

We are all Alice in Wonderland this political season. After a contentious but not really so close election, I’m ready to move ahead and hoping the nation as a whole can do so too. Things that I never thought I’d see occur in our nation have happened. Our democracy has been challenged in ways it has never been before, and our institutions may have bent a little bit to these uncertain political winds. But, at least up to this point, they have held secure. Most recently, the Supreme Court of the United States determined not to hear the Texas lawsuit which sought to delegitimize millions of votes across several swing states. That has been welcome news.

In addition, I’ve been encouraged by the announcement of a vaccine to made public very soon. Accordingly, the next several months should see Americans taking their injections and hopefully positive COVID cases going down by the summer. This moment, taken with the Supreme Court decision, sends a wonderful message to us all that healing is on the way. It’s about time to return to some degree of the familiar and normalcy–whatever that’s going to mean.

Christmas is just around the corner, and as a pastor, I am blessed to serve in a local church to experience this meaningful season with others. To be sure, the pandemic continues to limit our gatherings but the message of the newborn King cannot be hindered. As our Advent guide title suggests, we are having “An Unexpected Christmas.”

What isn’t unexpected, however, are the familiar scripture readings about the birth of the Christ child. The nativity story with the shepherds, angels, the journey to Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph will be heard once again. There’s still “no room in the inn.” Even after all these years, it remains to be seen if there’s room elsewhere for Jesus among us.

I’m enjoying rehearsing and reading the gospel accounts once again. We will celebrate the arrival of our Lord once again–COVID cannot stop this from happening! My hope is that all of us will appreciate what we’ve been given even as we grieve the loss of the familiar this Christmas season. Maybe folks won’t gather as they usually do, but we might be able to be more grateful for the simpler and smaller things this year.

May God grant us the peace to persevere through these uncertain days as we celebrate around the very familiar and predictable story of baby Jesus. Let us never take our blessings for granted, and may God grant us wisdom and courage for the days to come. Merry Christmas!

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