Millions of people celebrate the Christmas season, but not all of them are Christians. They shop and decorate. They attend the politically correct "Holiday" Party and participate in the music of the season. Some will say they are Christian, but just have trouble with a virgin birth and a resurrection - the two, really big mysteries. They say they believe in God and sometimes they go to church. They think there might be something after death - possibly a Heaven, but surely not a place called Hell. How could a loving God send someone to Hell? That's not very Christmas-y.
And then Advent comes and asks us to look again at the message proclaimed. The time is here when prophets warn, stars move in the sky and angels proclaim. Those who are unsure in their faith find themselves in another Christmas quandary. They find themselves on the bridge between the sacred and the secular and the choice becomes one of confusion and distraction. Back and forth they go - we go. The immediate often reigns over the important. Sometimes it is the good over the best.
I heard a speaker who made a strong point about this division. She said there are two voices inside of us. Deep inside each of us there is God's Spirit calling. Outside, there is the world calling - usually pulling in the opposite direction. Somehow those voices gear up for our attention during the time of Advent. The world pulls us to material pleasures and God's Spirit pulls to one, holy silent night. It becomes a battle and Advent can leave us feeling sad and depressed.
The conversation between Charlie and Lucy in the movie A Charlie Brown Christmas explains our frustrations:
Charlie Brown: I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."
Lucy: "Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem."
Christmas is not the problem. Christmas is the solution. Christmas is the voice that calls to us throughout the year. Maybe it's because during this beautiful season for celebrating, we find ourselves still on that bridge of indecisiveness, still wondering, still watching for some small sign of God.
God whose infant cries call me to your holy night,
Guide my steps to your sacred manger,
For You are the solution.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16