“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”

It is Christmas Eve morning (…can you really have an ‘eve’ in the morning?) and I am already locked, loaded and wrapped for Christmas.  We’ve been practically stress free this year as we have continued to cut back on the consumerism and the hurry that the world wants to impose on us.

And as usual, I have been inundated with news stories, Facebook posts and email forwards about the ongoing war for the right to say CHRISTmas or to erect a creche or CHRISTmas tree.  Thank you for your CHRISTmas concern and for the record I like to call it CHRISTmas, thank you.

But there’s more.

I read an article in the National Post about Art Pawlowski, an “… unrepentant Calgary street preacher … who has become a freedom of speech symbol” who was arrested after leading a prayer-circle in the atrium of Calgary’s city hall without a permit.  And yeah, it is more than ironic that this street preacher is unrepentant – repentance is kind of what street preachers are about…

This is the third time this fall that he’s been arrested for similar reasons.  He apparently feels that there is “… a bias against Christians…” at city hall.  Probably is, thanks to you Mr. Pawlowski.  (I’m glad he’s not on our side…  oh, wait a minute, he is on our side.  Kind of.)

Let’s be honest, Christmas wars and free speech fights are not really the spiritual battles that they are being characterized as.  They are more of a self-centered political battle for the kind of culture that we want to have in power.  We’ve become spoiled and politically motivated rather than sacrificial and Jesus-motivated.

But there’s more.

Read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for yourself (Matthew 5, 6, 7) without somebody interpreting it for you.  It’s about using the tools of God.  It’s about radically living, radically loving people of peace in an empty, hurting world.  It’s about putting aside our perceived ‘rights’ and concerning ourselves with God and with the need and the hurt around us.

But there’s more.

Our son works in a homeless shelter and reminded us that they don’t officially celebrate Christmas there because it is often associated with personal hurt, loneliness, or loss.  Sobering.  Perhaps some of you who read this blog are feeling pain this Christmas because of the circumstances of life.  I want you to know that Christmas isn’t about stockings hung or family gatherings or presents under the tree or too much turkey and pie.  And it’s not about fighting for the right to it.

There’s more.

It’s about a God who chooses to live among us.  It’s about God’s plan to reclaim what he created and make it all right.  It’s about his offered love, grace, forgiveness, and life to every person.  Peace and love trump anger and self-righteousness every time.  Christmas is about God unfolding a narrative, a journey, a slowly unfolding plan to do it his way.  It’s about Him winning in the end.

If you are hurting or mourning or struggling right now, my prayers are with you, but also know that God always wins even when it doesn’t look or feel that way.  Jesus’ words in Revelation 22: 12-13 remind us that there is more: “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

“The lovely old carols played and replayed till their effect is like a dentist’s drill or a jack hammer, the bathetic banalities of the pulpit and the chilling commercialism of almost everything else, people spending money they can’t afford on presents you neither need nor want, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ the plastic tree, the cornball creche, the Hallmark Virgin. Yet for all our efforts, we’ve never quite managed to ruin it. That in itself is part of the miracle, a part you can see.  Most of the miracle you can’t see, or don’t.”  (Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark, A Doubter’s Dictionary)

This is a perfect time to remind ourselves that there is much more.  This is the perfect time to participate in God`s plan by replacing the fighting and selfishness with peace and generosity.  This is the perfect time to live in the knowledge that there is more.

Grace and Blessings to you as you practice His Presence and pursue His Peace.