Sunday, December 25

Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

“For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace…” (Isaiah 9:6-7a)

I have always loved writing about Advent. The anticipation embedded in the season is delicious; the yearning toward Messiah is deep, and the spiral of time is a fascinating journey through the “then,” the “now,” and the “not yet” all at once. But Christmas–Nativity–is a different story. Literally. Christmas is nostalgic, as we ugly-cry over our “happy golden days of yore” one too many times. (Or maybe that’s just me!) Christmas is also stress-laden, haunted by ghosts of Christmas Past demanding we redeem their failures and meet their unreachable expectations. Christmas is grungy, especially if we think too hard about the reality of giving birth in a stable, but Christmas is also romantically shined up, with perfect poinsettias around the pulpit, and spotless children singing hymns by candlelight, “no crying they make.”

Christmas is hard to write about! What more can we possibly say about the Messiah’s birth than has been said by all the prophets and gospel-writers and apostles, not to mention the theologians and hymn-lyricists and poets? But at the same time, how can we ever stop talking about the utter wonder of God-With-Us, the Word made flesh, the Prince of Peace? Christmas itself is both an abundance and an impossibility. The truth is too big, and our language too small; yet surely we must speak, sing, write, preach it as often as possible.

Perhaps we speakers, singers, writers, preachers, pray-ers, storytellers can revel in the very gift of Christmas. Christmas, by its nature, is the immeasurable gathered up into the minute: universal authority swaddled in a tiny child. The gift of eternal truth wrapped up in fleeting words. Tiny, temporal words like light, like joy, like peace. Small, simple words that contain the full weight of our hopes every time we stare into the darkness, in every moment we mourn, with every agony of war. Small, simple words that cannot be overstated, and will never be worn out no matter how often we speak and sing and pray them.

We add our voices to the prophets, apostles, and poets celebrating the nostalgia of Christmas, relieving its anxieties, cringing at its realities, and even enjoying its romance. However small our words, God is With Us–at Christmas as always–bringing the Holy One to birth, and in him shining light, provoking joy, and delivering endless peace.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.