But if the Christmas story in Luke is framed with joy, there is a different kind of joy in John, a strange kind, the joy of tent-living.
According to its translation from Latin, Advent means “coming,” and throughout the season of Advent, we begin a time of waiting for the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world on Christmas Day.
I find the season ahead somewhat daunting. Despite the cheerful vibe, I can easily get stressed about all of it: the advertising, the events, the deadlines, the search for appropriate gifts.
St. Irenaeus once suggested that “the glory of God is the human person fully alive.” Christ’s incarnation gives us a picture of the perfect image of God. The way we become what we were meant to be is not primarily through technology, but through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, who makes us more like Christ.
Can we receive the gift of God on its own terms? Can we humble ourselves to receive this Messiah, not re-cast in the image of our own desires but as the Deliverer we really need?
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?