Most of our major holidays have a story associated with them (maybe not Labor Day, but you get the point). And most of those stories concern a war, a battle or a tragedy. Even Thanksgiving is about starving colonists in the howling wilderness who were barely saved (many were not) by the generous aid of the neighbors with whom they would soon be locked in desperate combat. Chanukah, the festival of light, concerns a bloody revolt punctuated by eight days of miraculous illumination. The Fourth of July, well… you know. They are all good tales in their own right, but they aren’t cozy bedtime stories!
But isn’t Christmas just the best story? In fact, I can say it that way because it’s not just a holiday; it IS a story, the Christmas story. A poor, ordinary couple traveling through the countryside toward their ancestral village delivers a baby in a stable because the town is too crowded to notice them. Surrounded by sleepy animals and awe-struck shepherds, they cradle their newborn under the light of a marvelous new star. And that newborn turns out to be God Himself, come to share the world with all of us. Have joy, peace and beauty ever written a better script?
If you want bloody battles and warrior heroes, you can look to Easter. But for now, I hope you take a few moments of your day this Thursday to remember the tranquil, graceful story of love that we celebrate at Christmas.