There’s a scene that pretty much every Christmas movie includes at some point (usually toward the end of Act II). The protagonist is down on his or her luck, and has just stumbled upon a window. They look inside and see a perfectly happy family, tall, perfect Christmas tree in the corner, a big, crackling fireplace, a big pile of gifts and plenty of laughter.
And the protagonist stands outside, looking in. Separated from all the warmth, laughter and love. Of course this usually happens at the low point in the story, when the hero is about to learn some valuable lesson that will enable them to save Christmas and rejoin their loved ones at their own fireplace scene.
Because the message is that Christmas is happening inside, where the fire is so delightful. Not outside where the weather is frightful.
This understanding of Christmas, as the warm places full of love and cheer, runs deep, so that even our nativity scenes look so peaceful and serene.
We forget that the first Christmas was anything but warm and peaceful. We forget that everyone around the manger is an outsider. That the nativity scene is filled with people who didn’t belong anywhere else. People who’d been left standing outside in the cold.
We forget – or maybe never actually thought about – the fact that when God came to the World, he didn’t come to the cozy fireplaces. He came to the outsiders, to the left-out. Jesus is outside.
In our sterilized, commercialized Christmas culture, that’s a hard thing to imagine. That Jesus would come into the darkness, rather than into the warmth and light. Yet that’s just how the Scriptures describe the first Christmas.
And more importantly, we are called to go out into the darkness. To join Jesus outside. This is our sacred calling.
Join us Sunday as John 1 and Revelation 10 teach us a different way to celebrate Christmas!