Faith Matters

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By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee

DREAMING OF A W-I-D-E CHRISTMAS

Doing a bit of research here.  It’s Christmastime!  Bethlehem is on a very similar longitude as the Houston metro area.  Go ahead.  Put your finger on the globe and take it for a short spin.  Pretty close.  We know what the weather’s like here.  Blustery.  Cloudy sometimes.  Temps in the mid-50’s.  Same as Bethlehem.  December balm or better.  And even if Jesus was born closer to mid-April to Mother’s Day way back then, there still would be no snow.  I grew up with snow at Christmas time and we all know the Bing Crosby hit.  Not here.  Not there.  Now, I’m dreaming instead of a W-I-D-E Christmas. For all.

So, may you experience some WONDER this Christmas!  More than the kind our children and grandchildren have on Christmas morning as they peer at a tree surrounded by gifts.  I’m thinking about the kind of wonder that takes your breath away.  Maybe a kind that is more gripping like when one sees the Grand Canyon for the first time.  The kind of wonder when you feel a baby kick in its mother’s womb.  Certainly, the kind when something great happens to you and you know you didn’t deserve it.  That kind of wonder.  The wonder of God.  The wonder of God creating a universe.  The wonder of God creating people like you and me.  The wonder of God’s love given to all as a reflection of God’s own love.  And the wondrous disappointment when we know love is lacking when it shouldn’t be.  And above all… the wonder of God who came to this earth in human flesh combined with the wonder that of all the gods ever given any due, this one is the only one to come and live among us in human form.  And the wonder only increases when that wonder includes Jesus dying on a cross only to be raised again.  His mother Mary’s wonder helps us ponder this at Christmas.

But I also wish you INTENTIONALITY.  That’s a mighty big word for this time of year.  Maybe it’s because Christmas is a mighty big story.  I heard a radio commercial this week from Mannheim Steamroller’s Chip Davis.  He wished everyone a merry Christmas with the words, “whatever you make Christmas to be.”  Something like that.  It caught my ear.  And no doubt Christmas is all over the map… literally and figuratively!  It’s an economic boon.  Armies stop fighting when it shows up.  There are elves on shelves and eight tiny reindeer all intertwined with a large happy man in a red suit sipping on a Coke!  Yeah, I get it.  Christmas can be whatever you make it to be.  But, beyond all your intentionality… remember when we peel off all the layers… the story takes us to a cave in Bethlehem where Joseph and Mary ended up… only to be visited by kings and vagabonds also known as shepherds and wise men.  And don’t forget the angels singing.  Intentionality is key to Christmas as in “God sent God’s only son, Jesus… to us…”

Coupled with wonder and intentionality I would also wish you DELIGHT.  Christmastime and the days leading us into a new year often can be difficult.  Loved ones have died.  Friends move.  Soldiers are far away on Christmas eve.  It’s the realization that things aren’t what they’re supposed to be or the way we’d prefer.  Yet, Christmas isn’t about you OR me.  Christmas is about a gift we didn’t seek or ask for but a gift that comes to us in love, hope, grace and faith. The Bible tells us Jesus is known as “Emmanuel… God with us!”  And God is!

But if there is any word to sum up Christmas it is … EXPECTATION!  We all get a case of it this time of year.  I’m not certain if it’s because the pharmacies and stores start hawking the culture of Christmas right after Labor Day now or because we know it comes every year in December… but the expectation arrives and stirs our collective hearts.  And people seem to be a bit nicer to each other than what we expect at other times of the year.  Perhaps it’s just our claiming and acting out… “peace on earth and good will to all…” God expects it.  Why not us?

It’s always a matter of faith!  Rain is coming to Bethlehem but weather for the greater Houston area on December 25 is sunny skies with a temperature of 71.  Let’s dream together of a W-I-D-E Christmas!

Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected].

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