Many of my family and friends believe that I am the personification of a certain Dickens character. I have wondered why I have taken a contrarian attitude towards this festivus time of year. Perhaps it is because the older I get the less I am impressed with sentimentalism. When we view virtually all the peripheral trappings associated with this holiday with the emotion of teenage girl when she sees a kitten or a puppy as somehow the purpose of the celebration it bothers me. “Bah! Humbug!”
It could be that I am just a grumpy old man. I remind my wife of a Burl Ives character from yesteryear. Not the one singing Frosty the Snowman, but Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The Burl Ives character is big and mean and gruff. Big Daddy didn’t like his wife, his grandchildren, or blue sky and apple pie. I grant that I am less patient with the pebbles in my shoes the older I get. But what puzzles me is that the smaller pebbles, like say loud children in Barnes’ and Noble, irritates me more than people who view that women should NOT be allowed to be president or preach the Gospel. What used to get my knickers in a bunch doesn’t even give me pause these days. And what used to be minor emotional ruffles bothers the bajebes out of me. “Bah! Humbug!”
Maybe I am chaffing against shallowness. It is such a slippery slope to start viewing Christmas as a time of giving and receiving gifts. Because when that is all it is about, when we stress and worry over just the perfect gift for our family and friends then it is easy to slide into the consumer commercialism that our culture has deified. What does Jingle Bells and Snowmen have to do with Christmas? I know, I know, I know…what is wrong with those harmless ditty’s? Nothing. Everything.
Perhaps I am put off by all the crowds and traffic clogging up my normal patterns of existence. I can’t go to my hang out spots to write and study without a fight of UFC proportions. I go to a coffee shop to study and have to hear Dave Mathews Band sing some weird version of a Christmas song. I even heard Bob Seger singing Little Drummer Boy the other day. I almost threw up! Bob “Old Time Rock and Roll” Seger, really? Come on, man! Sell out. “Bah! Humbug!”
If we are not careful and quite intentional, we will be seduced and lured away from what the incarnation is all about. God invaded our reality. Why did Jesus leave the safe confines of the Trinity? Why put Himself in such a vulnerable position of being nursed by a teenage girl? What could possible motivate the tri-personal God of the universe ever agree to such a plan?
Was God so lonely and needy that He went “slumming” on earth seeking some groupie types to sit around and sing His praises? I doubt that. Jesus was enjoying the most perfect relationship the universe has ever known. Infinite love, infinite grace, infinite glory, infinite holiness, infinite joy…all present, all the time in the Triune God. If He didn’t need us why did he come?
To teach us to dance. A dance is two persons interacting — one leads and the other follows, moving step by step according to the rhythm of the music. Dancing is an act of joy, and an enjoyment of mutual knowing and trusting.
The Apostle Paul said it well, “In him we live and move and have our being.” What is that but a dance with the ultimate reality—God.
I am proposing that one of the reasons I am a curmudgeon at this time of year is that somewhere in my soul I know that the world is missing the opportunity of a life time. To dance with the God of the universe. But Santa is safer than Jesus and Jingle Bells is less threatening to sing than The Old Rugged Cross.
Rudolf makes us smile, but Jesus makes us choose.
Maybe I want to stand up and shout to the Christmas crowd at the mall: JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! Maybe I am deeply disturbed by multitudes missing Jesus for the jingles. Or…
Maybe I am dancing with the wrong god.
P.S. I do not need a hug.