On the shores of the Puget Sound, in a quaint coffee shop called The Jewel Box, I spend December Mondays reading Timothy Keller’s Hidden Christmas with friends. We wrestle new insights about the birth of Jesus. We admit our reluctance to accept the darkness in all of humankind. Most importantly, we carve a humble slice of time to shift from holiday mode to Christmas meaning.
I feel the collective fight of the holiday season. We fight to hold space that honors the how and why of Christmas, to occupy that sacred space with friends and family, with silence and time.
On unusually wintry Pacific Northwest nights, I slide into cold sheets and feel my heart make an uncharacteristic turn toward repentance. Pride, control and judgment surface. In the darkness, I see myself more clearly. I fade as the flame-lit furnace kicks on, singing me to sleep.
We fight for hearts that are more divine than human.
The fragility of things that once seemed stable – finances, careers, health – is brought to light as a light snow falls, vanishes. As I feel my way through uncertainty, I understand why God told the Israelites to remember. I remember things that seemed impossible years ago – dreams, longings, needs – and the ways God turned them into miracles I live with now.
We fight to be people who see the future in miracles.
And none of this comes naturally.
There are things we fight against, too.
Another trip to the mall, stockings waiting to be filled, bank accounts taking their annual dip… and anxiety rises deep within me. I pray for freedom from the urge to numb my overwhelm with control.
We fight against self-reliance.
As one more pocket on the advent calendar is emptied, I taste the confusing mix of familiar feelings that arrive at the end of a year. I want to rush ahead and meet the “new” of a New Year. At the same time, I am weighed down with fear. Another 365 days are gone. Did I spend them well? Was I enough?
We fight against the vortex of the past and the pull of the future.
We fight for things that are not natural and against those that are.
And in the battle, this battle for good, I can easily miss this: it’s not about what I am fighting for or against. It’s about the fight itself. That we are all in it. And that every single one of us, no matter how hard we try each day, how much faith we embody or how much good we do, needs to be rescued from the fight.
And, this, this is the meaning, the necessity, of Christmas: Rescue already came. Because God knew we all need it.
I imagine that newborn baby boy in the manger. I see a fighter.