Christmas Day - Thursday, December 25

Christmas Reflection: Katharine Savage

This fall, as I angrily hauled two heavy laundry baskets down the basement stairs, I paused to calculate my ascent to Christmas holiday euphoria. That delightful place where there are no menial tasks, only my elaborate celebration plans executed to perfection. There are no disagreements with my husband or exasperations with the children, only smiling eyes around the table, hugs and “thank-you’s.” There are no unresolved tensions within my spiritual family – only deep unity around theological certainties. There are no unpainted baseboards and un-remodeled 5x7 pink tile bathrooms, only the mantel full of candles, pine branches and hand-stitched Jesse Tree ornaments. I wait for my Christmas escape all year.

As a child, when things got tough around the house (which was often), I grabbed a book from the mountain beside my bed and immersed myself in some narrative other than my own. I would let the words on the page drown out the noise in the house or the noise in my own head. Today, it is easy to let the outward glow of Christmas morn be yet another means of escape. Today, though, I grab another book off the shelf and read:

“in him was life, and the life was the light of all people ... And the Word became flesh and lived among us ... from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace”

What I love about the narrative in John chapter 1 is that the light my heart craves and the word my mind demands combine in one Person – one apocalyptic birth, descending into our human timeline. Jesus bursts into my tedium and beyond my make-believe world of book fiction. The outcome is very different from escape. The outcome is grace.

Escapes carry us away, numb us, blur reality. They are a short-term salve, a temporary balm. The rawness always returns and sometimes worse. But when Christmas morning dawns in our hearts, all the fullness of Christ is directed toward our daily moments. His grace sustains, heals and remakes us even as our bodies are bowed with suffering and worry. It is a deeper work than anything that happens around the Christmas tree. It is his relentless work, in us, that permeates every day of the year – this “power to become children of God.”

So, this year, when the Christmas tree has refused to receive any more water, and I finally take down my brittle memorial – when the normal rhythms of life return, I won’t wish them away. It is in those dirt-floor basement moments when I pause and receive grace from Jesus, the real light enters my life. I move forward in hope that “the light shines in [my] darkness, and [my] darkness did not overcome it.” 

To read more Advent reflections, visit our Advent/ Christmas page and download our Advent Prayerbook to follow along with us this season!