Christmas season has always been hard for me. It is supposed to be the season of love, joy, and peace but it seems to me that it is more about self-satisfaction and stuff. A time when we are supposed to be intently focused on the other-focused, self-giving Son of God arrived in the flesh seems somehow to disappoint more than inspire. I’ve struggled with this “gap” between the promise and reality for years. So I ask myself, “is it my expectations that are out of whack?” Or do I misunderstand the whole Christmas season thing?
This year, in a blinding flash of the obvious, I’ve come to a conclusion! [Don’t miss this point. Coming to a conclusion is a major accomplishment!] The conclusion I have reached is this: perhaps my issue with Christmas has to do with the difference between promise and fulfillment; the “gap” between the ideal and the present. Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God by his life, work, and witness. He came to preach the good news. He embodied the good news. He IS the good news. But somehow I had missed, all these years, that his flesh-embodied divinity was perfect in accomplishing what he come to do, but it will only be when he returns that all things, in fact, are perfected.
In the interim, we live in the gap; the difference between what has been promised and what actually is. And, in a strangely God-indicative way, the difference between what is and what is promised causes us to question, to yearn, to pursue. Things are NOT all as we are promised they will be. And that is never more obvious than at Christmas—especially to those who deal with the wounded-ness and imperfections of humanity.
During Christmas season, depression seems darker, the cancer diagnosis is more dire, the relational fractures more nagging. And that is as it should be. Because when we are focused on the perfection of God, coming in flesh for the freedom, light and life of all that He has made, it would be absurd for us to respond with ordinary “acceptance” or the resignation of lukewarm satisfaction. No, this is not acceptable.
This is NOT the way its supposed to be! And it won’t be this way forever. The Promised One who came over two thousand years ago is coming again! And this time, every thing will be made new, perfect, completed. There will be no more gap because the promise has become reality. So, living in the gap mean we constantly need to remember that we are not home yet. As those who are on the journey home, we should, we must, yearn for what is to come. WE must remember that Christmas is about TWO comings: one past and another still future. We who know the reality of the first coming must help ourselves and others persevere until the second. Because, after all, we’re not home yet!