Finding Peace and Solace
There hasn't been a time in recent recollection when the promise heralded by a humble birth in a dusty stable has had as much meaning as it does right now.
We really, desperately, need the comfort that comes with knowing that our lives mean more than what we see, hear, say and do every day.
Those 20 little angels, comfortably resting in their heavenly kingdom that we lost two weeks ago in Connecticut, are the stark reminder of how fleeting our existence really is.
Most of us fool ourselves into thinking we have a plan, that we've contemplated and calculated to limit surprises and the unforeseen.
Oh, how little we really know.
Federal fiscal crisis discussions, the investigation into the death of foreign service workers in Libya, the misguided focus on how the Mayan people produced calendars and an unstable world where Iranians and North Koreans are launching rockets capable of extending their reach leave us all shaky and worried about the future.
Yet that aforementioned humble birth – and short life that followed – gives Christians the world over the comfort to face these uncertainties and much more.
Each faith tradition includes a similar capacity for redemption, forgiveness and ultimate spiritual fulfillment. It's up to each of us to find that source of strength, and once found, grasp it with all of our might and magnify its glory.
You see, it really doesn't matter what faith tradition brings you that peace. What matters is that you find it.
The focus here is on the birth of Christ, not to demean or minimize the traditions and beliefs of others, but to "dance with who brought me".
The TV stand at home holds a small plastic manger scene. The beautiful porcelain version, housed in a large rustic wooden stable, remains safely boxed away in the basement.
The grandson-friendly version is better suited to a house that will host four young men, ranging in age from one to almost five, for the next few days. The little set includes the principals in this story, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, three kings, a random assortment of barnyard animals, an angel and a walrus.
Yep, a walrus.
No, Bethlehem had no walrus population to speak of. The poor walrus comes from a Noah's Ark play set by the same manufacturer, so the poor thing actually looks like he belongs there.
At various times during the Christmas season, there have been Matchbox fire trucks, a nerf ball, and dog chew toys added to the Holy birthplace menagerie. Similarly, Baby Jesus has been discovered in the back of a dump truck, hiding under the sofa, and we've even plucked a camel out of the bottom of the dishwasher.
The idea here is that the story of Christ's birth, and the hope and meaning that it brings to the lives of millions, should be accessible, even to the littlest hands, hearts and minds.
Helping gently remove Baby Jesus from a teething one year-old mouth creates a teaching moment to talk again about the meaning of the holiday.
This is what we need right now, more than ever. We need to know that we're not alone on this crazy planet. We need to know that when it all seems inexplicable, someone can explain it. We need to know when we find ourselves in that darkest of places, a light will help us find our way back.
My prayer for you is that you also find that same peace and solace for you and your family.
Merry Christmas, and thanks for reading.