And on the Twenty-Seventh...
The Big Day will soon arrive. You know, the one before all the Boxing Day sales. Fleeting images of family, good will toward men, an overwhelming table of food, a much too early morning of wreckage and wrapping paper.
But stop. Remember the old German carol, "Still, Still, Still". The silent pause. The adoration. The hope. At Bethlehem.
I must admit that I am over-weary of the short-lived hype. It almost causes me to minimalize the Day. After all there is no convincing proof that Christ's birthday came during winter. Rather it was an emperor's edict to have something in the Church to rival pagan festivals.
I would ask the question, "What warms you to the prospect of peace, good will, charity, unselfishness and dawning light on the 27th of December and days thereafter?" Men of good will? Doubtful. I see the message and the life force of Jesus at the root of all benevolence in our society.
To be without Him is to be without real hope. One might just as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow...
For the last three winters I have considered reading the acclaimed novel of Cormac McCarthy entitled "The Road". It paints the picture of a bleak, post-apocalyptic America and a father and a son trekking toward a warmer southward coast through the grayness, rubble, char, death and ash.
I am reading it now. Perhaps a morbid choice, but filled with memorable, haunting imagery. Very good writing. The Father's whole life is wrapped up in the little boy and his well-being. The youth tries his very best to understand what it takes in such a broken-down world to remain one of "the good guys".
On the road, encounters with other people are to be feared. Tracks are to be covered. Precious personal effects are to be kept from view. Robbery. Abuse. Murder. Enslavement. Cannibalism. All perils faced by the couple. Colours and concepts of right, art, play, animals, birds, music and community are no more. Sadly, pleasures are limited to discoveries of the essential in dilapidated, mouldering buildings and stores. Canned beans. Pears. Drink crystals. Fresh water. Lighter fluid. A utility knife. A flare gun. A place of warmth for the night. A plastic pancho against the relentless drizzle.
Jesus, in His ministry, said a disturbing thing about the heart of man:
20And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
"The Road" is a threatening development upon this theme. The spirit, the heart of man is a sad wreck of what it once was. But with the Spirit of Christ there comes elevation, redemption, mercy, help, a new motivating life. This is the joy that is available, that outlasts Christmas... the Lord is come!