Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thoughts at midnight

It's midnight, and I should be in bed. I'm so tired, but my mind still whirls, worrying about things I can't change or redo or fix. It's easy to say that you have to leave your past behind and move forward, but in reality, we all carry baggage. And we get tired of carrying it.

One of the most powerful ideas in Christianity is being "born again." It's a phrase that comedians like to mock, but it carries within it true hope. The chance we all have every day to remake ourselves. To grow. To be better. To not be yesterday's person.

It's hard to change. Habits and friends can keep us imprisoned. And fear -- it's often easier to stay in an ugly room than to brave a dark hall. We cling to the familiar even when it's bad for us because we know what it is. We think we know how to handle it. We get used to it.

I remember reading how the Nazi guards became accustomed to the evil they saw every day. It became commonplace. They chose to close their eyes and go along. They ate lunch a few yards away from where thousands of people died.

Easter is the cornerstone of Christianity. It's darkness, power, and glory. The Resurrection is the end of the beginning, and the world changed. I revere Easter. I can feel the sheer puissance of those final days as the world hangs in the balance. But ... I love Christmas.

Christmas is the beginning of the end of the beginning if you follow that. It touches me to think of that moment in a stable 2000 years ago when a young girl gave birth to the Son of God. When the night filled with angels and Magi followed a portent in the heavens ... That first unnamed Christmas was God's gambit, His choice to send His cherished son to a fallen world to give them a chance to start again, to be better people, to learn to love each other, to be born again as new people.

I had several people disapprove -- in a nice fashion, of course -- that I put up my Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. I had plenty of reasons -- health and so on -- but the main reason was I needed to be reminded of that hope, that glorious hope that Mary and Joseph must have felt as they gazed on a newborn baby.

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