“The Pain of Christmas?”
Angel choirs. . . glowing stars, wise men with gifts . . . animals peering reverently into the stall-turned birthing room in awe . . . mother and father raptured by sheer joy. Christmas. The clean version. The sanitized and glamorized TV special account. Just as there was no room in the Inn, there is no room for the pain of Christmas? The first day of Jesus’ life is swaddling clothes and violin music. It seems to stand in stark contrast to the last day of His life which is marked by shrouds and a screaming guitar solo fit for a horror movie. We have no problem dwelling on the pain of calvary a scene fraught with betrayal, suicide, whips, lies, thorns, spears, nails, hammers, and torn flesh. But pain at Christmas? That doesn’t fit our Silent Night version of the first Christmas. Perhaps we should take a real look at the holy night that Christ was born. All was not calm and certainly all wasn’t bright. No sterile hospital room could be found. The baby was born in a dirty, nasty, manure-littered (Jesus wasn’t the only one who needed a diaper genie), hay filled stable. Not to mention the smell. Have you been in a barn lately? Ever been in one that smelled like your local Bath and Body or baby powder? The environment wasn’t perfect. We can accept that. We can handle that concept. But pain? Childbirth comes with sweat, strain, occasional screams, and in some cases possibly swears. Anyone who has ever witnessed childbirth knows that it isn’t pretty even though it is beautiful. Mary is faced with the real pain of real childbirth. Jesus wasn’t a one push delivery with all pain divinely absolved. Gritted teeth, labored breathing, cries of agony and tightly clenched fists were the welcome matt that Jesus crossed to become one of us. It was bloody, slimy, and messy. We don’t mind the thought of pain on the cross, but we conveniently ignore the pain of Christmas. Birthing Jesus hurt.
Why is it even necessary to take a fresh look at Christmas? Why not just continue to Clorox the event to look like the children’s play complete with bath robes and baby doll Jesus’ we see every year? The pain of Christmas teaches us that even when we are birthing God things, pain should not be a surprise guest. Our obedience to God’s instructions doesn’t mean we won’t find ourselves face to face with agony, strain and bloody situations. Birthing “God things” are almost always accompanied by pain. In fact, we should expect things to get messy. The animals might just not stand still or even be remotely interested in what miracle is coming to life. No may travel from afar, much less across the room or office to see our new arrival. However, if we are willing to endure the pain and the unpleasantness of the birth, although our experience may not be as picturesque as a Christmas card, angels may sing and history may be changed. Out of “nowhere” (an animal storage facility on a back street) the answer for our need may appear and the solution to age old questions may be found.
Christmas may be the favorite time of year unless you are the one in pain. If you are in the middle of a push remember that there is just as much purpose in the pain of Christmas as there is in Calvary.