Aleppo today has faded from the headlines. If the news cycle has moved on, it should not mean that our hearts should too. The humanitarian situation in the city is still extremely precarious, and the number of internally displaced people ever higher, with all the logistical problems this implies. In such a situation, it is easy to feel helpless.
The meaning of Christmas is easily lost in the glitter and hype that fill our days for weeks and months at this time of year. Much about the Christmas season is cozy and appealing. Much else about it is shallow and consumeristic. But what is the true meaning of Christmas?
The shirtless man doing taekwondo, the child staring blankly across the table at dad’s empty chair, both parents celebrating a baby’s first Christmas and the couple who cannot get pregnant, and Melissa moving earnestly from one person to the next. These are the new characters of Christmas.
The meaning of Christmas in Germany, however, gives the church freedom to proclaim the miraculous story of Jesus once again—that Christ was born for all people, that outsiders from the East are welcomed to greet the newborn Savior, and that lowly shepherds can proclaim the Good News of great joy.
If we stumble on our doubt sometimes, does that mean we aren’t blessed? No. But, consider it to be a blessing when faith is strong. We recognize that there are seasons in our faith lives. Sometimes, our faith may be as solid as the ground that we stand upon. Then, there are times when faith feels like a cliff that we hang on to by our fingertips. Yet, take comfort: it is still faith.
Indeed, looking up to see the heavens on a moonless night sky and seeing the Milky Way drape itself across the firmament is something I should do more often. Perhaps the shepherds were doing just that very thing one night in the fields near Bethlehem.