Emmanuel

Summertime is finally upon us in Buenos Aires. We’re running the AC liberally. The skirts and shorts have been in the wardrobe rotation for a while now. I’m getting a good farmer’s tan from all the surveying . And I’ve made good use of our rooftop pool in recent weeks. This has got to be the strangest holiday season I’ve ever had. Listening to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as I apply another layer of sunscreen, I have to keep reminding myself it’s Christmastime.

We Christians like to make a  big deal about stressing “the true meaning of Christmas,” making sure the rest of the world knows that we participate in all of the consumerism because of JESUS and NOT because of Santa.

Snarky comments aside, I have always thought I had my heart in the right place over the holidays. I always knew in my head that Christmas is about Christ’s birth and nothing else. And yet, here I am, feeling a little sad to be away on Christmas. Away from my traditions and my family and a fire in the fireplace, is my celebration of Christmas just as joyful as always? I confess that it isn’t.

December has been a month of ups and downs. This past week contained most of the downs. I was pick-pocketed twice on the subway last week, once unsuccessfully and once successfully. I said goodbye to some wonderful American friends, one right after the other, as they all went home, just in time for the holidays. And then the massive tragedy in Newtown Connecticut happened and shook me to the core. I’ve come here to Argentina to pour myself out into Buenos Aires and yet for the past week my heart has been heavy with grief for my own country.

And my heart turns back on the true meaning of Christmas and wonders weakly if the story of the stable can comfort a mourning nation and grieving families. At least, not the way we often tell it. So often we lose ourselves in the details–in the frankincense and myrrh, in animals in the stable—and it all seems like a faraway fairy tale. And then we look at the horrific reality of what has happened here in 2012—dead children—and we question the relevance of a baby in a stable.

But look:

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Matthew 2:16

After Jesus was born, Herod, feeling his kingdom threatened, murdered all the baby boys in the whole region of Bethlehem. Mass murders. In Jesus’s time. This evil is not new. God sent his son into the very same world we live in now. Christ himself was nearly a victim of such violence. He knew what he was getting himself into with us.

Don’t get so caught up in the details of the story that we miss the point, the glorious miracle that GOD CAME TO US. He wrapped himself in skin and bone and made himself one of us and came into the world that he made and we ruined. I look at the atrocities and the evil in it and question: why did you come here, Lord? Confronting evil like the kind we saw here in 2012 and in Bethlehem 2000+ years ago makes the Incarnation all the more inconceivable. That God would leave heaven to come be with such bent creatures as humans shows how deeply and unconditionally we are loved.

So this Christmas, it’s okay to mourn because man is sinful and we are vulnerable. But then rejoice. Worship. Celebrate. Because the extent of man’s sinfulness is exceeded by the vastness of God’s great love. We are not alone. He is Emmanuel, God WITH us!

That is worth thanking him for, don’t you think?

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2 thoughts on “Emmanuel

  1. How did you get so seriously wise beyond your years? You are quite the blessing. We certainly need some of that wisdom as people have little to hold onto these days except their fear. And there’s a whole lot of groups that love to feed, and feed on, that fear and really keep any legitimate dialogue from happening. I find it’s tough to explain Jesus to people that aren’t really interested in anything reasonable and won’t allow for belief in anything miraculous. It’s nice to know it’s not our job to convince them, just point them in the right direction.

    We miss you and we’re missing family too these holidays. But we are looking forward to getting together for the big Wedding. See you in Columbia. 🙂

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  2. Miss and love you, Kelsey.  Look forward to seeing you soon.

    Love,Aunt Duffy Paige “Duffy” Lewis

    “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” — Benjamin Franklin

    “A distant, central government dictating every small decision in each town would result in poverty. The ultimate unit of government is the individual . . . He knows best his needs.” — Thomas Jefferson

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