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Christmas in Trying Times

This morning as I read U.S. headlines, the phrases and words were daunting: reign of destruction, unchained,  unhinged, unpredictable, fear, sociopath, and crisis. Wow. That’s a lot of fear and dread going into the most sacred of Christian holidays. These words were all to describe the political environment and do not even touch on the reality of this pandemic fog we live in.

Jesus was not born into pristine and welcoming times. War and revolt were commonplace. Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to be accounted for in the census required by Caesar Augustus. After the birth of Jesus, they became refugees and fled to avoid the “Slaughter of the Innocents” by Herod the Great.

If you do not believe Biblical accounts of the events, historic accounts of those times depict horrific events. Not easy times, but in some strange way it left me with a sense of peace. It left me remembering we have survived trying times over and over throughout history. Living our best lives and being kind in a not-so-kind world is a powerful way to celebrate the birth of Christ.

I think back to the last Christmas I spent with my father in the Valley. On Christmas Eve, everyone came to evening church services where they received one white candle. There was no preaching, only singing of hymns. Afterward, everyone walked to the altar in silence, lit their candle, and then exited the church in silence. Many walked home carrying their candle, shining light into this small, perhaps insignificant to some, corner of the world. This night reminds me I do not need to gather en masse to pay reverence on Christmas. One single candle is sometimes enough.

Enjoy this season. Smile at the festivity. Find peace in your own belief system. Be kind to others. Celebrate safely. Exercise self-care and protect the vulnerable in your circle. Decreasing your dosage of apocalyptic journalism might make your holiday a little brighter.