Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! – Hamilton Wright Mabie
We see these words and others like it all over the place.
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
“Peace on earth, goodwill toward men (humanity)”
“May joy, peace, and grace find you this holiday season.”
“Joy to the world”
What if? What if we link the realities that these clichés offer us with the polar opposite? If we do, these clichés become radical assertions of hope.
Joy to a world in the midst of pain. Peace on an earth that is littered brutally with violence. Beautiful pictures of what a world in shalom could look like. Yes, clichés can be radical.
The Christmas story and the season of Advent is radical.
In Advent, we wait in eager anticipation and hope for the birth of Jesus. A word that became flesh and ‘moved into the neighbourhood.’ This is a counter-story. A story founded on the hope of shalom in a world in violent chaos.
In the church world, we quote the story. A lot!
If we are a people who claim a story of hope yet fail to embody the words, through Jesus, who are we? What do we believe? Who do we follow? Stark words to be sure, but words that ask us to push beyond the cliché and become a people of God’s shalom. This Christmas will be painted as the year where 20 beautiful elementary school children and 6 wonderful teachers were murdered. A reminder that we NEED to embody the radical claims of the Christmas Story.
When you buy that card, or say that phrase that seems cliché, be sure to pay attention to what you are indeed saying. Even further yet, ask yourself what kind of reality those words would paint would they be pursued in collaboration with a shalom seeking God.
How is this for a cliche? “With Jesus, Christmas is totally radical!”
What are some cliches that when link with the polar opposite would be radical statements and embodiments of hope? What does it look like for the Christmas Story to be embodied your time and place?