As I walk my dog, I see my neighbors have put out Nativity scenes for Christmas. Mary kneels before the manger, and Joseph stands above them looking kind and protective. Little tiny plastic Jesus, a baby, also “an everlasting light—the hopes and fears of all the years.”
I think that’s a lot of pressure. He’s just a baby! Really, this time of year it’s about Mary. And Joseph. It’s about family.
Whatever else Christmas means, most people agree it is about family. We’re supposed to get together and be peaceful, with goodwill for all mankind including and especially your family.
Families are so very ordinary. Christmas is a time to celebrate them, and appreciate them. The story of a baby has a lot to do with that. Celebrating and appreciating a newborn is an art. They are so helpless and needy! They have nothing to give but themselves.
But the story goes that Jesus—baby Jesus—had salvation to give. But not at first. At first, it was Mary giving. She gave birth, and she and Joseph gave little Jesus an upbringing.
That is a clear and apparent kind of salvation. That’s the saving grace that all good families give. Food. Shelter. Sustenance. Love. Hopefully more than the basics. All these family things that are simply expected. Singing the favorite song to lull some little one to sleep. Giving a parent a drink—Mom’s flavored coffee or Dad’s favorite beer. Or giving the dog her walk.
The song says:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared
And the soul felt its worth
The weary world rejoices!
There are many, many times that I flop down in sin and error pining, particularly at the end of the day. If it’s a very trying day, it I might start pining in error earlier. I can pine for some comfort, pine for the better person I have not yet become.