I do believe there is an oft-overlooked inherent challenge in the message of the incarnation, but don't get me wrong, I also get that Christmas is a time of celebration and rejoicing. A time for glitter and face-paint and elf hats. A time for singing with more enthusiasm than talent and for silly games we haven't quite consigned to our childhood. A time for smiling and for laughter, lots and lots of laughter.
Most of all perhaps, it is a time for community. A time for celebrating together with those we love and for expanding the boundaries of those we call friends.
Luke and Matthew may have chosen different people as the first visitors to encounter Jesus, and at first glance they seemingly have little in common, but both shepherds and magi symbolise the outsider invited in: the poor and the foreigner are present at the celebration: not as victims but as actors, not as observers but as sharers in and of the story. The joy and celebration God wants for us finds its fulfillment in the opening wide of who is included.
And so we send cards (an as yet unfinished task in my case) as an annual reminder, should such a thing be needed, that the community of those we love spreads around the country and the world. We create a hiatus in the everyday busy-ness of our lives to gather together with our family and our friends.
We celebrate, together.
I am extremely lucky that my "together" includes so many amazing people and has included so many beautiful celebrations.
Christmas is about hope, and about joy: and about the capacity to keep believing in both. I acknowledge the privilege of being surrounded by many, many people who help me continue to do so. Thank you.