A Christmas Message from South Africa
December 24, 2015
by Peter van der Walt
It’s a crazy time for many of us. Some are seeing family. Some are happy about that, and some just bite the bullet. Others actively avoid family. Some enjoy carols, and others grit their teeth through the latest Christmas wailing when visiting the malls. Some do the big eating, others do the big washing up. You may enjoy Christmas, or you may not. And you may buy into it, or not. But either way, you will know it’s Christmas. It’s a big deal. Like it or not.
That in itself is pretty interesting, considering that it was all started by some Middle Eastern refugee kid born to an unmarried couple in a barn in hostile terrain two thousand years ago. Pretty bad odds for being a big deal of any kind, not just for one lifetime, but certainly in the overall scope of history.
That’s kind of the point of Christmas to me. What seems to be a hopeless situation, an endless struggle, diminished potential, or a lost cause, the most unlikely to have a happy outcome, a series of irrelevant events, or just some confirmation that my prejudices are correct turns out to be a pretty big deal indeed. A Saviour is born, not as the Emperor of China or the spiritual leader of the Roman Empire, but as ‘just another kid’ with dubious prospects.
However lost I am, feel, or may be considered by others, Heavenly Father is no respecter of persons. There may be vast and respectable hordes considering me inferior, immoral, inadequate and generally unsavoury, it really is irrelevant. God isn’t swayed by circumstances and God doesn’t fear bad odds. In fact, scripture abounds with God seeming to deliberately pick a starting point of disadvantage.
So, as I survive all the “shoulds” and “oughtas” of the Seasons, and the pressure involved in pleasing everyone (writing the correct messages in my Christmas cards, and such forth), and the denial of the legitimacy of my own same-gender partnered family (that I will indeed be having some delightful celebrations with), I’ll tune out all the noise and focus on the message.
It is simply this: It doesn’t matter how unlikely happy endings may look to you. God isn’t intimidated. A Saviour was born. That can’t be taken away, not by conviction, consent, policy or doctrine. It was and remains a Gift. Individually and to all of us. Even us kids with dubious prospects.