Some Christmas movies are on my noddy list. Elf is not bad enough to merit coal, but bad. There are so many Christmas cliches…from mechanical toy construction to a belief in Santa. Yes, I went there. I guess it reminds me of everything about Christmas that happens every year but is like an ornament that has shed all its glitter.
Isaiah opens with a call for heaven and earth to witness God’s case against Israel. They were performing tasks of obedience like robots and enjoying other things on the side.
“Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.”
Christmas is full of traditions. And sometimes I only enjoy them as a robot. The tree. The gift exchange. The gingerbread houses. What are you doing? Why do you do it? Is it worth it? Sometimes it is better to throw tradition to the wind…and be real.
“16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
18 “Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”
Hope. That is the core of Christmas. Hope in new life – you can see it in God joining humanity in this sinful world. The confusion of God at work: blood bringing cleansing (death filling the price of sin and righteousness filling the account of those who accept the gift). God is not angry at you. He is not disgusted. He loves you on your worst day, enough that Jesus died for you. So don’t try to pray only on your best days. I do that. God would rather we looked at the sin together, counted it as forgiven, and moved on from the mechanics of trying to act good to make up for it. These are the true confessions of a guilt-addict. It’s scarier to admit we need help to change. But I do. You do. And God wants to sit down with us and see the sin and make it clean. Free. Pure. Forgiven. Hope in new life. Welcome to Christmas. What change will you make?
God, I try to keep a secret notebook of sins and pretend all is okay. You see. And like with Israel, it just wrenches Your heart. I’m sorry for trying to save myself. Thank You for being real, and calling us to a gift of forgiveness. You are good. I am so glad to be saved by You, forgiven for sin, and able to look towards how You are working. God, please help me to give up the traditions to see the chances to share this gift of hope! Amen.