On behalf of Susan and myself, I’d like wish you all a blessed and joyous Christmas!
My Christmas meditations started quite unexpectedly this year on October 14th.
It was a cool, rainy day and I was feeling the effects of a cold. In our car port, our garbage pail was so full that the lid would not stay closed. We had been playing raccoon roulette (gambling raccoons wouldn’t come and empty garbage all over) for a few days so I slung the heavy, stinky garbage bag into the back of my pickup truck along with 3 or 4 blue boxes of sorted recyclables, and drove to the dump. It was just the miserable task that the miserable day and my miserable nose called for.
Arriving at the dumping depot and glad that it had at least stopped raining, I hoisted the garbage bag into the facility’s compactor and then backed my truck up to recycling pile. Emptying my blue boxes, I took my paper to the paper bin, metal to the metal bin, glass and tin to the glass and tin bins and then I tossed the rest in the “household” pile. While doing so I noticed a family of rats (I assume they were related) scurrying amidst the remnants of my city’s consumerism. Rats in garbage certainly fit my mood. And then it happened.
Suddenly, sunshine broke through the clouds and I heard a choir singing and booming out glorious Christmas music. Really! My grey, rat infested mood was immediately conquered and vanquished as notes and chords and voices proclaimed the birth of Jesus, God’s gift to us to save us from our sins and ourselves. I soon discovered the source of this divine melody was the little shed where everyone pays for dropping off their garbage. There, on the counter, was an old boom-box and some Christmas CDs that had been rescued by the garbage attendants - today’s equivalent of Bible-time shepherds.
I have held that trip to the wasteyard, which ended so festively, close in my heart this Christmas because like many this time of the year my thoughts and feelings have been prone to tilt towards the “dump” side of life. The year 2011 brought a couple of very rich and celebratory times in my life and the life of my family, but it has also been a challenging year which I spent one quarter of sick with the worst virus I have ever had and 10 months of being stretched by outer and inner life change. Add to that my mother-in-law’s passing in November and I can sum things up no better than my wife did at the end of our online Christmas card, “We are still adjusting.”
Maybe this Christmas you too are “still adjusting” to a rough time and big changes in life. You may be missing the presence of loved ones who can’t be home because they are imprisoned, sick, serving overseas, estranged from you, or passed from this life. Perhaps you are missing the old you lost in an unrelenting world of change that has left you in a pile where confusion and hurt and sadness scurries to the forefront just when you think things are getting better.
If you are spending this Christmas in the dump, let the message of this season part the clouds for you and push the darkness of inner fear and doubt away. “Christ is born!” is the “Help is here!” of every soul languishing in this world that ravishes us with the consequences of our ours and other’s sins. Jesus, the Savior of the world is ready to begin, or restart, a work of healing and forgiveness in all those broken by their broken choices and in all those broken by this broken world.
Calling on Jesus is the single most important “adjustment” one can make in the dumps of life.