(A Dialogue Reflection for Christmas Eve 2009)
P= Preacher struggling to prepare for Christmas Eve Service
P: [singing/listening to We Need a Little Christmas] AUGH! This just isn't working! This has got to be wrong. God! You there God! What am I supposed to say this year?!?!
G: You called?
P: You're darn right I called! You really expect me to talk about tidings of great joy this year?
G: Of course. It's Christmas, you do remember that the Christmas story is about good news and hope and all those things right?
P: Yes yes I know all that. It's just that it doesn't seem to fit this year. I mean Celebrate? Good Times? You have to be joking! Haven't you been watching the news these last couple of years?????
G: So times are tough. That doesn't change the story.
P: Times are tough?? That is an understatement. We have 2 major employers who have been closed for 2 years. The whole world is still struggling out of a major recession. We can't seem to find the will or the path to really address pollution and climate change. These aren't good times. Not even close.
G: SO? Where does it say that Christmas is about Good Times?
G: Where does it say that Christmas is about Good Times?
P: Well.. I guess it doesn't.
G: Of course it doesn't. Christmas is about all times. Christmas comes when things are going really well and when it is all falling apart. Christmas is about hope and promise and joy. When do you need those more than right now?
P: Well yeah but...
G: But nothing. What happens at Christmas? What do you talk about?
P: Well there is the story of course. You remember, the baby in a manger...
G: You mean the baby born to peasants who had nothing, not even a place to stay. Go on.
P: And there are the angels appearing to the shepherds...
G: Messengers from me to folk who were among the lowest of the low in their place and time. Messengers bringing good news to people who had nothing. Messengers telling them that I am active in the world. GO on.
P: Well I guess that is about it. But the story is so old. Everybody knows it. What do I tell people that is new?
G: New is over-rated. I mean new is good sometimes, lots of times. But sometimes new and innovative gets in the way. Think about that story again. You must see that there is good news in there for the world today.
P: Well maybe. But it seems odd to talk about joy and celebration these days. What is there to celebrate?
G: Lots. Even when life is going badly there are small things to celebrate once in a while.
P: But joy? So many people are unhappy and anxious. What about joy?
G: Hey! Joy isn't about happiness! Christmas Joy has nothing to do with how much you laughed yesterday!
P: It doesn't?
G: NO! Christmas Joy is about recognizing that something special is happening. Christmas Joy is the rush you feel when you remember that you are not alone. Christmas joy is in the promise that I am active in the world. IT isn't about happiness, it goes much deeper. It's about faith and hope. Joy to the World! Listen to the angel song again. And think about that story. Who is in it? What happens to them? I just told you what was important about it.
P: The story? I told you we all know the story. A baby in a manger, angels and shepherds.[pause] oh, you mean that stuff about the couple who had nothing and messengers to the lowest of the low...
G: Now you're getting it. Do you maybe see what needs to be said this year?
P: Sort of. But...
G: I told you, no buts. That song you were just singing. Did you pay attention to the part where it says For I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder, grown a little sadder, grown a little older,
P: Yeah, that was the part I really found meaningful this year.
G: well the important part is right after that. Think about what it says: I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder, need a little Christmas now. For we need a little music, need a little laughter, need a little singing, ringing through the rafter, and we need a little snappy "Happy ever after," need a little Christmas now.
P: Hey yeah. That matches what we need to hear right now! We need a little Christmas Joy and hope and promise. We need to remember that the angels are still singing to us about tidings of great joy for all people. We need to join in the song about peace on earth, goodwill to all.
G: And the fact that these aren't good times?
P: That's why we need to hear it! Just like the story is full of people who live hard lives being reminded that You are with them, we need to be reminded that we are not alone. Even with everything that seems to be going wrong around the world we can tell the story again and remember that You continue to break into the world today.
G: Now you've got it! That is what Christmas is all about! I really don't care whether anyone believes that Luke got the story right. Arguing about what really happened when Jesus was born isn't what Christmas is all about. Christmas is all about the future, not the past. Christmas is all about people being able to recognizing that I am active in the world around them. Christmas is a promise that things can get better.
P: Thanks for that! If there was ever a time when we need a little Christmas this is one of them. Joy to the World! God is here, we are not alone. Let's all celebrate! Come ON!