Ten years ago today I was in the process of deconstructing myself down to the foundation. I had to figure out what I wanted and what God wanted to do with me. I really had no idea about either of those two things, so I spent a lot of time alone. I guess at the time I was probably perceived as sulky and detached, but I hope not. During the week of winter solstice, I drove to Nashville and spent some time in Chattanooga on the way there. I wrote pages and pages of lousy prose and such during that time, but it was good to dump it all out my brain.
During the week, I got to see an Over the Rhine concert. I was in the process of redefining my musical tastes and I latched right on to the sound of Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler. Ten years later, I’m still eagerly listening to the music of Over the Rhine and building on that foundation I started. After starting over, one of the next tasks I started on was reconciling Christmas and coming to terms with it. I started to embrace both the sentimentalism (of which there was a lot in my past) and the tacky (of which there is a lot in my present) and be able to laugh and smile about it all while remembering there was a Truth underneath it all.
I always been told that Christmas changes when you have children. I guess part of it comes from buying gifts for your children. Of course, we aren’t buying very much in the area of gifts this year. That’s what grandparents are for! I think for me this year it has more of identifying with Mary and Joseph. No, we don’t have the Son of God in our house, just two little girls, but I understand some of the anticipation and anxiety that they must have had. I mean, I know how much anxiety I had when Adriene was pregnant (“will they make it out alive?”, “will they make it out with all four limbs?”, “will one jump out, slash my throat, and go on a rampage in the operating room, horror movie style?”) and I have a lot of anxiety now (“will they be smart?”,”will they be motivated enough to get jobs and not move back into the house with us when they are 25?”,”will they irritate me every day crying for Elmo toys?”,”will one of them pull a Jamie Lynn Spears on me and end up pregnant at 16?”) I can only imagine how much anxiety filled Mary and Joseph.
I know Mary must have had a lot of anxiety when the angel told her that he was to be the father of the man who would die for the world’s sins. That’s why I love that one of the first things that the angel said to her was “do not be afraid!” Fear. It keeps the 24-hour media channels in business. We can’t turn away without looking to see what country, what politician, what war, what natural disaster is threatening us next. But God tells us not to be afraid, even to Mary in the imminent foreboding that her unborn son will die a horrifying, agonizing death. Do not be afraid.
So, with an election year coming up, let the politicians promise us things they can’t deliver. Let them try to scare us with certain doom if they are not elected. Let the talking heads on TV spread their fear of what will happen if this person or that person is elected or is not elected. I will not be afraid, nor will I be afraid for the two little girls in our house. We will trust the little baby, almost the size that they are now, who became Son of Man and Son of God.