It seems it is customary in our culture, to remove the Christmas tree, Christmas decorations both indoors and out as quickly as possible after December 25.  Perhaps this year it will be different.  Most Christian Traditions celebrate Christmas beyond December 25.  They include the Feast of the Epiphany and might conclude with the Baptism of the Lord.  Our culture marks January 1, as the beginning of a new year with a call for resolutions.  The season offers much for serious contemplation.  

Why do I think it necessary to observe this Christmas Season carefully this year?  It seems that this year of all years we need to contemplate what the Incarnation really means.  In a column by Peter Wehner in the New York Times, Mr. Wehner speaks of a radical Jesus.  The God who participates in the human drama does so through the person of Jesus Christ.  We celebrate his coming into the world, bringing the knowledge of the divine in all of humanity and nature but we can’t leave it there.  Because of this knowledge we are challenged to do all we can to reach out to the marginalized and the forsaken.  The Jesus that came into the world did so to heal and save others through his all encompassing love.  That love led him to the cross, far beyond the manger in Bethlehem.  

Simply acknowledging the birth of Jesus is not enough.  The Christmas Season, the beginning of a new year calls us to make resolutions that are focused on more than taking care of ourselves.  The resolutions that we make should include an analysis of our prejudices toward others, our quick desire to judge others and our unkind thoughts and words toward others different than ourselves.  It seems making these kind of resolutions takes a lot of thinking.  Let us spend the Christmas Season giving careful thought to what it truly means that God through his son, Jesus, became one of us and has always walked with us in joy but also in our deepest sorrow.  Can we walk hand in hand with him with a willingness to live as he did with love toward all and a concern for the common good?      

– Helen Ackermann