Growing up I used to watch a lot of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies with my family. Nothing wrong with these movies per se, but if left unchecked you can start to miss the whole point of the Christmas. No, I don’t mean that the Hallmark Christmas Channel movies don’t contain enough Jesus.
What I mean is that if I watch too many Hallmark Channel movies I start to think that the point of Christmas is to get everything just right, just perfect enough, so I can finally earn the spiritual gifts of joy, hope, love, and peace.
These movies tend to reinforce a false narrative we have in our world that we have to work insanely hard to create the perfect conditions for our life before we can experience a transcendent love, or what I call grace. To put it theologically: we believe in salvation through works, or to put it simply: we believe the meaning of life is to work our way into perfection.
Now, of course, we know on some deep level that this isn’t really the point, but our false selves, our egos, tell us otherwise. They tell us to give in to the illusion, to decorate, to clean, to perfect the meal, to buy the right thing, to polish all the silver in just the right way, so that all the external circumstances of our lives can be arranged in the way that looks the best for our Instagram (#nofliter) so that then and only then can we know salvation, spiritual healing, and wholeness.
But the truth of Christmas is that God is with us in the messiness of our lives. The truth power of Christmas is that Jesus is born into a normal, somewhat dysfunctional family, that God’s grace enters into our imperfect human story and condition to show us the power of unconditional love.
My prayer for you and for me as we approach the birth of our savior, is that we embrace our mess, embrace our imperfections, embrace our broken relationships and somewhat dysfunctional family dynamics, because God embraces them wholly and holy. Merry almost Christmas, Robert