More Than a Merry Christmas

“Merry Christmas” said the gruff, well-seasoned bus driver. He paused. “And if you don’t celebrate Christmas I’m not talking to you!”

In politically correct Cambridge I thought my ears were going to fall off. And I feared a bit for his life. But in the spirit of the season, most people were good-hearted and merry about the interaction, wishing the driver a happy holiday or Merry Christmas as they left the bus.

It also made me think about the “war on Christmas”. I realize it’s not something I’ve fretted over. While I think ‘X’mas’ looks a little silly, I dismiss it quickly. I’ve lived in two Muslim majority countries where we celebrated Christmas without outside forces dictating the rules or grandmas getting run over by reindeer.   And as I walked away from the bus with a ‘Merry Christmas’ in my ears and on my lips, in an epiphany of sorts I was struck that my faith is so far beyond a mere ‘Merry Christmas’.

For this God I love is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s the bright morning star and the fairest of ten thousand. He is the babe in the manger and the King of Kings. He was there when the sea was formed and is there when the mountain goats give birth. He is Creator, Saviour, Comforter all in one. He is, and will always be, so much more than a Merry Christmas.

So today I wish you more than a Merry Christmas. While the magic of the season is limited, the reality of the living God will sustain forever.



Readers & Friends – Thank you….for reading, emailing, commenting, and, right when I’m ready to stop blogging, telling me that what I wrote helped your soul. Yesterday Communicating Across Boundaries made it to over 200,000 views in less than two years – and it’s because of you. I’ll be taking a break for a few days as my kids come in from different corners of the globe through international and domestic terminals. 


When Rational Thought Meets an Irrational Season

One of the best pieces I read this week came from the New York Times by Stephen Marche. Called “Let My Tebow Go” the author, an admitted atheist confronts his dilemma: how does he as an atheist make sense of good things happening. Just as the Christian struggles with the question of how a good God can allow pain and suffering, the atheist struggles with the opposite — and that, he says, is “contending with joy” or “how can randomly good things happen”.

For him this is represented in two things: the first, the 3-year old daughter of a friend of his fell down a steep staircase and got up, unharmed. “I could barely stand to look at her afterwards” he says. “Every time I thought about what might have happened to my friends’ child, a fierce constriction grabbed my chest and a sickening feeling roiled in my belly. Over the rest of their visit, I kept randomly repeating, “That was a miracle.” It was the only phrase I could come up with. I didn’t know how to deal with inexplicable good fortune. Even after my friends returned to New York, the strange constriction in my chest persisted.”

The whole thing didn’t make sense. It wasn’t rational.

Tim-Tebow-Sports-Illustrated-Cover-4The second – Tim Tebow. That Tebow, a quarterback who is not that good, led the Broncos to victory after victory is not rational. The author is “confounded by the absurdity”. He finds himself longing to see this continue, he feels the Jets must let Tebow play. “Tim Tebow is a prophet of happy absurdity. He is a moment of inexplicable joy.”

It’s rational thought confronting irrational happening. It’s Susan from Miracle on 34th Street “I believe… I believe… It’s silly, but I believe.”

And where is this most at play? During the absurd and irrational season of Christmas. A virgin birth is not borne of rational thought, a death on the cross and resurrection three days later is not logical, rational. And that’s the mystery of this whole thing, this whole season. A baby is born of a virgin and history changes.

Madeleine L’engle articulates it best in her book, The Irrational Season, and her famous words:

This is the irrational season, When love blooms bright and wild, Had Mary been filled with reason, There’d have been no room for the child.”

In the midst of this last weekend before Christmas, where the ‘rational’ demands our attention, may we make room for irrational joy and promise.