Minnesota is known for its snowy winters that produce gorgeous Christmas scenes. This year is different: my lawn is still green, and the snow we once had has almost entirely melted. Weather forecasters aren’t sure whether or not we’ll have a white Christmas this year. For many people it won’t feel like Christmas unless we have plenty of snow on the ground.

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It’s easy for us to lose sight of the Biblical reality of Christmas when we are overwhelmed with advertisements that promote a so-called “perfect” Christmas filled with winter scenes, expensive gifts, ideal homes, new cars, and families free of pain, conflict and struggle. The result is that we place false expectations on our own Christmas experiences. When reality doesn’t match our hopes, we can become cynical and even bitter.

The reality is that Jesus—God with us, Emmanuel—came into a fractured world under extremely harsh conditions.  Expectations for a perfect arrival of the King of kings were shattered by God whose ways confound human thought.

To my knowledge snow wasn’t falling in the area where Jesus was born.

The heavenly peace that filled the night of Jesus’ birth stood in stark contrast to the extreme violence, poverty, and unrest that pervaded the region.

Jesus’ birthing room was a stinky, manure-carpeted, Middle-Eastern barn.

Shepherds— the socially misfit, nomadic “cowboys” of their day—were the first to hear and respond to the heavenly news of his birth.

His parents probably lived from paycheck to paycheck (so to speak) as they pondered an uncertain future with a new baby boy.

The gifts of the wise men may have been God’s financial provision for Jesus’ family, as they became refugees told to flee to Egypt to escape the pending massacre of children by the ruthless ruler Herod.

Every year we are faced with the choice of how to view Christmas:
•    With unrealistic expectations that almost always leave us disappointed
•    Or with hopes that God, Emmanuel, will be with us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

I’m convinced that Christmas is about moving our attention away from the expectations of this world and onto Emmanuel, God-With-Us, as the writer of Hebrews wrote:

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor.” (Hebrews 12: 2 Living Bible)

A few years ago I was reflecting on the people of Jesus’ time who saw the star of Bethlehem. We always focus on the ones who followed the star to Jesus, but I wondered about those who saw it and chose not to go.  I wrote a song-story about this called “Season of Light” and have included the audio file and lyrics with this week’s blog.

In Christmas season, I pray that we will seek God, who is before us now: in this season of light.

God bless you.

Chris

Season of Light
Words and music by Chris Atkins
© Chris Atkins. All rights reserved.


Walking through the desert
Tired and worn out beyond all measure
We moved ahead like people in a dream
A star in the sky beckoned,
What does it mean? We stood and reckoned
Shining in the sky like a glory stream
But we turned around and walked the other way,
Allowed the God who made the star to just take it away.

The star shone and then faded
The years passed and our hearts grew jaded
Just like the godly dreams of our youth
Darkness gripped like a cancer
Until the day I found the answer
In a Man who said “I’m the Way, the Life, and the Truth”
He said “Come to me, you’ve strayed from God so far”
When I looked in His eyes I saw the light brighter than that star.

This is the season of light
Time to turn from darkened blindness
To the brightness of God-given sight
The answer to your hunger for God’s kingdom, power, and might
Is before you now in the season of light.

We walked away from the city
The day He died on the cross, beyond all pity
Our hopes and dreams were killed before our eyes.
The third day we were walking
We met a man who heard and started talking, saying
“The Son of God had to suffer, die, and rise”
When he broke the bread I knew that it was He
Who filled my heart with the heavenly light of God’s risen glory.

This is the season of light
Time to turn from darkened blindness
To the brightness of God-given sight
The answer to your hunger
For God’s kingdom, power, and might
Is before you now in the season of light.
…Season of light.