Why decorate for Christmas? Why go through the process -- the work -- of unpacking, unraveling, and hanging extraneous things just to take them down, wrap them up, and pack them away a few weeks later?
It's because we gravitate toward beauty. We need beauty, I believe.
When I see a crimson bow against the pine garland that drapes along my front porch railing, I see beauty. The same goes for when I gaze out my kitchen window and notice the bulbs that are dangling above my kitchen sink,
or the wreath hanging on my front door,
or the stockings suspended from our banister,
or the festive centerpiece on the dining room table.
I see these small touches and realize that beauty has been brought to this place.
These Christmas decorations have joined the daily stuff: the crumbs, the dust, pile of clothes that needs to be carried up the stairs, the day's mail that's been left on the dining room table, and the dirty dishes in the sink that couldn't fit in the crammed-full dishwasher.
Across the nation, Christmas decorations have been displayed in homes where hearts have been heavy, where little children have been shielded from the news, and where older children (like us adults) have been painfully grappling with why?, knowing that there are no glib responses or simple explanations.
And yet, the Christmas decorations are beautiful. It seems like such a stark contrast -- almost out of place -- but isn't this the essence of the Christmas message? That beauty was brought to our mess?
Life is terribly messy at times. And in light of the recent events, life also is unspeakably tragic at times. Whether our messes are purely accidental, entirely of our own doing, or dramatically and irrevocably imposed upon us, we're living in the midst of them, feeling their effects.
Why did God go through the process -- the work -- of bringing Beauty to our mess? Why bring a baby into a manger? Why take such beauty to such a lowly and filthy place at such a dark time?
I recently read a post from Moore to the Point which reminded, "Jesus was not born into a gauzy, sentimental winter wonderland of
sweetly-singing angels and cute reindeer nuzzling one another at the
side of his manger. He was born into a war-zone. And at the very rumor
of his coming, Herod vowed to see him dead, right along with thousands
of his brothers. History in Bethlehem, as before and as now, is riddled
with the bodies of murdered children."
Certainly, in these upcoming weeks and months (even years) we need smart discussion and thoughtful, informed advocacy about school safety, mental illness, and gun laws. That much is abundantly clear.
As for right now, I also remember John 10:10, which states, "A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full." Simply put, the murder of children -- the most innocent -- is of Satan. Period. It reeks of evil.
We must take practical steps to do our best to prevent such tragedies from occurring again, of course. Also, shaken as our nation is, this is not a time to run away from God, but to run to God.
This is the message of Christmas: God became man and entered a violent world to meet us in the midst of our mess.
He still can meet us in the mess.