ALVEY: Reigniting the magic of Christmas

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2017

By JACK ALVEY | St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

As a young child, Christmas was always the most magical time of the year. The lights, the decorations in the mall, the carols on the radio, the pageants, the parties, the food, the Advent calendars, the weather reports about Santa and his sleigh all filled me with an excitement I could hardly contain. I would sometimes stop and wonder, “Is this real life?” “Am I living in another dimension?”

Over the years, the magic of Christmas dissipated. I got older. Family life got more complicated. The magic of it all wasn’t powerful enough to hold my attention anymore. However, that magic has recently been reignited as I see my children, especially Mary Katherine, experience the Christmas season. But as magical as this time of year is for so many, it can make the vulnerable even more vulnerable. A multi-billion-dollar industry has been built around Christmas -— the toys, the gifts, the decorations, the cards, the food, and the list goes on. In a way, the pursuit of a magical Christmas creates a bigger chasm between the haves and have nots.

As I have grown older, it isn’t the magic of Christmas that holds my attention but the mystery of Almighty God, the Everlasting Father being born to a lowly mother in a stable in Bethlehem which makes my heart grow in awe and wonder. For in this mystery, we discover a truth that money cannot buy, we discover a place where all — rich and poor alike — have a seat at the king’s table, we find a love that takes us to another dimension, a new world.

Except this other world is real; this other world lasts. This world isn’t a fairytale. It doesn’t depend on a Christmas bonus. This new world reveals God’s heavenly reality established on earth. It is a world that depends on a God who pays the ultimate price to save us — the gift of his only Son.

This heavenly reality starts to become real in our lives and our communities when we search for God’s Son among the vulnerable, the poor, and the lowly — in all the proverbial managers of Bethlehem. This reality starts to become real when we take our place in God’s new story of salvation and lay our gifts, not at the feet of the rich and famous, but at the feet of the weak and helpless, at the feet of the infant Jesus lying in a humble manger.

The Nativity of Jesus is a story that has the power to transform the human story of selfishness and pride into God’s story of service and humility – a story that grows out of the most vulnerable of circumstances, a story that invites us to grow in the truth that salvation is found in the very places the world would rather forget. May the same love that the lowly and humble Mary treasured and pondered in her heart some 2,000 years ago be born in your heart again. And may the mystery of that love convince you more and more that you (and everyone else) are God’s beloved child through Christ the newborn King.