Tuesday, December 11, 2012

O Holy Night

Every direction you turn, images of Christmas are evident.

You need not look far to find beautiful and thoughtful displays, tastefully decorated homes with glowing trees, and rows and rows of symmetrical twinkling lights. Step into one of these homes and the warm fire will greet you as you breathe in fresh scents of pine and cinnamon. It is beautiful and clean and so.very.pristine.

Looking upon these exquisite arrangements one senses order and peace.

O Holy Night

In contrast I'm reflecting on the untidy disorder and chaos in the lives of so many celebrating Christmas around the world this year.

They experience vastly different surroundings and a much more simplified version of the annual celebration of the Christ child. It looks nothing like the photos in the magazines and has not even the tiniest hint of Martha Stewart. There are no smells of fresh baked cookies or apple cider to entice them. They don't string lights around a tree, pile colorfully wrapped gifts high, or build gingerbread houses; yet meek and mild - they celebrate.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth

How did our celebration of this day become so clean and crisp? Where are the smells and  sweat and tears that were most certainly a part of Mary and Joseph's journey? 

It begs the question:  Do 'Better Homes and Gardens' scenes with sparkling lights and gorgeous decorations reflect the Christmas story best? Are the experiences of a frightened and ashamed teenage mother-to-be anything like that?

Do the marginalized and suffering in our world experience Christmas more like Mary and Joseph did - or do we?

A thrill of hope - the weary world rejoices

I'm reflecting on these two extremes.  I love the exquisitely ordered and the beautifully arranged. I close my eyes and picture that sort of beauty in our Heavenly home.

While yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

I long for a day when disparity and injustice ends. I dream of a Christmas were no child is enslaved, abused, and sold. I pray for the glorious morn, where the oppressed are free. I long to wake up to learn that no child is suffering or slowly starving to death. I dream of a day when people from every continent and every nation celebrate Jesus and His birth surrounded by love, joy, dancing, singing and immeasurable peace and beauty and justice. 

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace

Truthfully I also find great inspiration in the simple, dingy, gritty, humble celebrations of those who struggle and toil without access to our unstained images of Christmas. I long for their stripped down total dependence on God. I pray for spiritual wealth like that of the materially poor. I want their depth. I want their undying hope. I want a Christmas less like Oprah's and more like theirs.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease

Our youngest daughter Lydia has been struggling with choices. When offered a choice of two things she'll often reply, "I want two ones."  When she says that, she means I want them both.  

As I soak in Christmas this year I find myself wanting two ones.  I want the perfect looking, delicious smelling, pain free and unpolluted Christmas and I want the dirty, stinky, humble, difficult, but miraculous Christmas that Mary and Joseph and the rich in faith experience.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name

While I attempt to reconcile two very different Christmases, the celebrations only make sense to me in the context of good overcoming evil. God coming to earth in the form of His son Jesus, to live a sinless life, to die for us ... In His resurrection the promise that one day there will be beauty and justice for all. 

The end of death. 
The end of suffering.

O Holy Night

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     

(Written and originally posted in 2010 - reposted in original format 2011 - EDITED 12/10/12 and posted AGAIN. Thank-you so much for reading. again.)


Elicia said...

You inspire me EVERY.DAY. friend.
Thank you for the reminder.

Ruth said...

Such a beautiful post, Tara.

Roberta said...

Really really like this! We decided to simplify our Christmas this year and focus on making someone's else's a little easier. We are all enjoying it a lot more because of this. Thank you for the great post!

Momto16 said...

This is a must read post this Christmas. Thank you. And Merry Christmas. :)

Carla said...

Thankyou. A beautiful reminder.

Carla said...

Thankyou. A beautiful reminder.

Jodi said...

I enjoy your realistic view of life. I myself have thought a great deal about how we celebrate Christmas. I have no great answer, but really a question.
When some one gives you an awesome gift, do you first run out to buy them one or do you sit and truly enjoy the gift given? As a giver I would love to see my gift enjoyed. We spend a great deal of time at Christmas wondering what we "should do" and how we "should celebrate". Maybe, wherever we are and whatever circumstance we are in we enjoy our gift of God with us and praise His name (That is simple)! Without God's love there would be nothing for the poor or the rich. We are all in need of a savior. Thank God he loves me, for without Him I am nothing. Maybe I don't look inward first or outward first,I look UP. ? He loves us. That is what I've come to this year, and it releases me to enjoy either the stinky stable or the fragrant cinnamon.

A Stone Gatherer said...


Anonymous said...

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.

Arthur Sido said...

Great thoughts, thank you for your ministry to the people of Haiti.

Chris and Britt said...

Beautiful post, mama.

Anonymous said...


I thought you would like the above quote. You truly have a year-round Christmas in your heart. :)

So many looking for "it" at this time of year under a tree..... instead of looking at what was "on" a tree 2,ooo years ago. :(

Merry Christmas to you and your precious family and supportive friends.

Go to Haiti girl!!! Run your race!!! Hebrews 12:1

T & T Livesay said...

I do love that quote! Thanks - Hebrews 12:1 happens to be my favorite verse :) Merry Christmas to you too.

hasta yatağı said...

very nice!

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

A powerful post. Thanks for always making us THINK, and not allowing us to just accept America's "take" on things like Christmas.


anymommy said...

That's my favorite carol. Merry Christmas, Tara. I find order and joy in your views and your wisdom and the window you give others into other worlds.

John & Christi Barnes said...

Dude...yall always get to me. Love it!

ATB said...

So glad you reposted this...it is one of my favorite posts of yours and spoke deeply to me again. Thanks. I love your heart, thanks for using it to speak Truth and Hope. Much love, Tyler

KelliGirl said...

This is so lovely! Having been to Haiti several times and leaving a part of my heart there, I understand the conflict...and wanting to choose both.
Bondye beni ou!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your faithful sharing of this. Do you/y'all know this song? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKnwiQSNXjE The Other Shore - a gospel favorite that always brings tears to my eyes when sung in church.

R.J. said...

Sometimes I think it is like this because the first coming precedes and points to the second coming.