The people living in darkness have seen a great light; On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16; cf. Isaiah 9:2; NIV)
Scarred Joy posts do not tend to shy away from writing about the darker side of life. This post is no different. Please consider before you read further this post is not warm and fuzzy.
As I write this Scarred Joy blog post the Christmas season of 2017 has begun. Amidst the sounds of Christmas and wishes of good cheer are the ramblings of complaints and protests. One just has to take a brief glance at social media venues to see evidence of people using up energy vehemently expressing their opinions about things they cannot change. So what else is new? Our nature as humans is to complain and value our opinions.
The Christmas season has its dark side and always has. One may wonder if there is a more commercialized and secularized holiday season than Christmas. Since the birth of Jesus Christ the time we refer to as Christmas has included things one may feel uncomfortable talking about. This includes the murder of innocent children, the selfishness and abuse of power, the exploitation of people and the tiring journey of political refugees etc. These were all taking place during the time of the first Christmas. Such examples of the dark side of humanity are unfortunately alive and well today. Darkness does not stop because of “Christmas.” Christmas is still scarred!
Contrary to popular opinion Christmas is not just for children and never has been. The peace often sung about and spoken of at Christmas time is offered to anyone who will receive it. There are tyrants even today who would like to destroy children and break up families. They have no idea of the truth of Christmas. Christmas is scarred by anyone and anything that upsets and causes misery for people.
There is disillusionment common in contemporary Western culture that also scars Christmas. It exhibits the disappointment and mistrust many have in people of authority. This disillusionment has scarred Christmas for it does not take a break.
Hope is alive my friends, in spite of the darkness or marks of our scarred Christmas. Amidst the commercialized trappings of the typical secularized practices of Christmas there still exists what really matters. There is still the eternal truth that Immanuel, God with us, came to offer us a life not dictated to by the whims of others. He came to bless people not to destroy them like a cold and brutal tyrant or misdirect them like a commercialized celebration of Christmas.
There is still light today and light ahead. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…” (John 1:5) Disillusionment, fear, anxiety, angry protest etc. dissipates when one gives way to the light. The dark side of life, that which causes even Christmas to be scarred, cannot overcome the light.
We can certainly enjoy family, fun and food at Christmas. We can sing and be merry and welcome the season. We can draw near to those we love and allow life to slow down. If, however, we take some time to recognize that Christmas also has scars and a dark side, we may be even more thankful for peace and goodwill. The light is still offered to show us the way out of darkness.
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight