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A Bittersweet Christmas To All

 This morning I was struck with an unmistakable directness sometimes necessary to truly get a needed message across. My morning festive Christmas celebrating with Santa cap on and carol singing was abruptly interrupted by a phone call from a woman who had just become a widow, following her husband's suicide. The fact that I had to move my Santa cap tassel just to put the receiver to my ear, made the contrast between the sweetness and bitterness of that moment all the more ruthlessly stark. 

Perhaps it is because in this precious of seasons, where expectations run high for sweet blessings, that the painfully bitter times seem to loom so large in contrast. Ask any good orthodox Jew, though, and they will let you know that THE meal is not complete without both the Wilderness bitter herb and the Promised Land honey. One without the other betrays the truthful realities of what it means to be on this journey we call life...regardless of what season it might be. 

“And this will be a sign unto you that you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothsand lying in a manger." 

Not exactly the sweet experience of a Messiah we were expecting. In fact, pretty easy not to find any sweetness in that at all. 

Born in a feeding trough under the indifferent gaze of animals who probably out numbered the gathered human witnesses not real sweet, pretty stinky. And just about as bitter a birth scene as one could imagine. So, what is the message...the Sign? 

Don't try to dress it up too much. Don't get too sophisticated. One does not come in such intentionally banal, earthy simplicity just for us to dress it up and adorn it with heavenly pious niceties. It is, what it is. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else needed. Than Emmanuel... God with us. There is no bitterness of life we can experience that He has not been through or will not be through with us. Nothing we experience this side of heaven that He will not be there with us. Is there any news greater than that? The One who is with us, Emmanuel wants us to know that the Heaven, which awaits us, is nothing but bitter there. No wonder the early Christians were so fond of saying Maranatha, “Come Lord Jesus”. So may your Christmas be bittersweet-always filled with the faithful presence of Emmanuel, as we eagerly await His Second Advent. 


Music - Amy Grant“ Welcome to Our World”