Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nontraditional Advent: A Secular Christmas. And Jesus is still present.

On Monday morning, Duane and I headed over to San Diego State to pick up my telephone, which I had left in the TA office on Friday afternoon.  As we drove off campus, I asked Duane if he wanted to stop and sit in a coffee shop so we could do our devotions together.  I figured this was probably the only chance I would have to see him on Monday.  He was going up to Oceanside to see his mom, and I would be sitting at home all day, working on a paper that's due in a few days.

We got our coffee and sat down in a corner.  It's Christmas, and of course Christmas music was blaring.  This is the kind of Christmas music that, although quite cheerful, doesn't really put me in the mood for prayer.  And I so I was reading Isaiah, journaling, and pretty much trying to put the music in the background.

I heard Frank Sinatra singing, "I love those J-I-N-G-L-E Bells."  And then Eartha Kitt sang, "Santa Baby."  And I marveled at how very un-Christmasy that song is.

I began to pray for different friends, and as I prayed, I wrote each name in my journal.  Hard situations.  Broken relationships.  Abandonment.  Illness.  Disappointment.

And then, I heard these words in a song, offering hope in each situation.  Good tidings of comfort and joy.  And I understand the meaning for Christmas.  When Jesus enters the world, he doesn't enter into a world that knows who he is.  He enters into the Jingle Bells, Santa Baby world.  And he offers hope to that world.

We live in a difficult, awkward world, full of broken dreams.  Sometimes things go well.  And sometimes they don't.  But God is good.  No matter what's going on around us, God is good.

And when the angel came to the shepherds, he said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Don't be afraid.  Don't worry.  Don't get caught up in your circumstances.  Jesus is here.  He is the Messiah.  He is hope for your future.  He is Immanuel, God with us.  

And then, suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Jesus still makes his presence known in the midst of "Santa Baby" and "Jingle Bells."

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name.  Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things.  Shout aloud and sing for joy, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.  (Isaiah 12).

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