By Curtis Shelburne
I don’t usually think of Christmas and chains as going together, unless I’m reading about the ponderously-chained ghost of Christmas Past who so terrorized old Ebenezer Scrooge! But I believe this to be true: Christmas is a “chain,” which is only as strong as its weakest link.
If Christmas deals only with lights and tinsel, eggnog and poinsettias (all of which I enjoy very much, I hope you understand), and the Yuletide joy and peace, love and good will, we sing about are just artificial twinkles and largely illusory light, then Christmas is a weak and pathetic thing that can’t possibly stand the test of life and time and which will fade a long time before the January sales (and credit card bills) end.
If Christmas has to do only with parties and good times, but nothing to do with hospital rooms and disgusting diagnoses . . .
If Christmas has to do only with smiles and “Merry Christmases” and nothing to do with hope at a graveside . . .
If Christmas has to do only with sales and not souls, presents and not his Presence, holiday cheer but not lifelong joy . . .
If Christmas has to do only with Jingle Bells and nothing to do with “God with us,” well, then, Christmas is not up to the task of making a real difference in our lives, and it’s just one more momentary diversion for the despairing, one more false hope for people who know no hope, and it certainly won’t make much difference in life, or in death, or in anything at all very real or substantial.
But if Christmas, and all that is best about this good season, points to real light and hope, glimmering reflections from the Father of Lights, the Giver of Joy, the Sender of the very best Gift, then the Christ of Christmas can use this time of celebration to point us to light that truly is stronger than darkness, hope that is genuinely stronger than despair, and life that is ultimately and infinitely stronger than death.
Then we discover that the Light of Christmas is real indeed because he is real, and life is far more substantial than death.
Then Christmas means something beautiful and wonderful and real. And Christmas joy can and will last forever.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at