Reflection Written by Bishop Jeff

Christmas is probably my favorite holiday, not because it is so terribly perfect, but instead because it is so terribly flawed. Much as we try to make Christmas look like a Hallmark card, or envision it as a sleigh ride down a snowy lane, or portray Jesus as a cuddly little baby, it just never works that way-at least not for me. In the same way, while Advent begins the church year as a season of expectation, a time of preparation and hope, we never really do seem to get prepared for the coming of Christ.

Let’s face it-the world no longer seems able to take a break from itself. “O Holy Night” gets played all right, but it’s as likely to be overheard in the checkout line at the supermarket as it is as the centerpiece of a worship service.

Who knows? Maybe that’s the way it has always been. Maybe it was designed from the beginning to be the Word thrust into the middle of tax season, amid long, arduous journeys in crowded places and in empires powerful enough to demand tribute and crush the human spirit if you let it.

No I think the true gift of Christmas is that it is a blessed intrusion into a world which is so far from perfect-SOOOO FAR from perfect.

Over the years I have begun to pay more attention to the number of the “strays” who seem to show up at Christmas time. On Christmas eve, I became more and more aware of the seemingly equal amounts of joy and sorrow, hope and disillusionment, promise and pain as people entered the sanctuary. Interestingly enough, we all come with the same hunger, not for a word ABOUT God as much as a word FROM God.

I also realized more and more that the proclamation of the “good news of great joy, a savior which is Christ the Lord” is a powerful word for a weary world.

For those of you who are part of the proclamation, either through preaching or reading or singing or setting the table for the celebration. I invite you, I implore you, to be bold in your proclamation. Preach and sing and pray as though your words make a difference in the lives of the hearers-because in fact your words do make a difference.

Those of us who are the hearers, the hungry, the beggars at the doorstep, we will not settle for a merry little Christmas. We long for a word which will pierce the darkness, a sound which will tear open the heavens like a bolt of lightening crackling down a mountain canyon.

A blessed Christmas,
Bishop Jeff

© 2017 Greater Milwaukee Synod

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