Christmas for the uncertain.
I wonder how certain we might be if an angel appeared and told us we are to have a baby? How certain might we be if in a dream we were told that our betrothed was pregnant but it wasn’t ours? I wonder how certain we might feel if an angel appeared to us in a field and told us to go and worship a king in a stable. I wonder how certain we might be about angels at all?
What if we felt we were being called to go on a journey to follow a star with no certainty about why or where to go? What if we arrived in a bustling village with no sense of where we were staying or where and when our baby would be delivered?
The Christmas story is full of uncertainty. Much as Christmas is today for many of us. That uncertainty may present itself simply in terms of concern about whether that friend will buy you a gift or not and whether you should have a present in reserve to bring out just in case they do or how you will spend the 25th December. Do you spend it the way you want to or do you spend it the way you feel you have to even if it means you won’t enjoy it as much – or even hate it?
There are many people who will spend the day surrounded by friends and family whom they love and who love them in return. There will also be many people for whom a day with family fills them with dread and yet others who long for others to spend the day with.
Christmas Day is a significant day for many people, however God is no more present with us on that day than God is on any other day of the year. For some reason we have to make it as perfect as possible and then have a meltdown when it isn’t and claim that “Christmas is ruined!”
Christmas is uncertain. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not so good. Life is also like that and we manage to roll with it so perhaps we should with Christmas as well. Stories of virgin births, choirs of angels, travelling wise men and incredibly accepting and compliant shepherds fill our ears and we may rejoice at this or we may say, hang on – really? Can that actually have happened?
But what is the message beyond these stories? What is it that the Christmas story is trying to tell us? I suspect it is something about God not leaving us to wallow in our own mess, a God who knows what it is like to be a human being in the messy and uncertain world we live in. A baby who grew up to have such an impact on the world that we still celebrate his birth today but who himself was uncertain:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
ut of Jesus’ uncertainty came great creativity, came a supreme act of love and commitment to the world and to God. However uncertain we are that is indeed worthy of celebration.