In the Lectionary

December 24 & 25, Nativity (Luke 2:1-20)

God’s faithfulness shows up with wonder and surprise in a weary and heavy-laden world.

Christmas can toggle between being a delight and being a chore. Traditions may feel more precious after COVID isolation, but they also may seem futile. What difference does it make to decorate the tree, put up lights, wrap presents, send cards, host parties, and travel for family when the world is weary and heavy laden? Will any of it stop a military power from obliterating a nation? Keep another mass shooter from wreaking havoc on a community? Slow down climate change from destroying the planet’s most vulnerable? Prevent despots—or mere bureaucracies—from exerting damaging control?

Years ago, Paul Simon’s “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” captured this perfectly. Against the backdrop of the Christmas carol “Silent Night,” the news drones on:

President Johnson originally proposed an outright ban covering discrimination by everyone for every type of housing, but it had no chance from the start, and everyone in Congress knew it. . . . In Washington the atmosphere was tense today as a special subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities continued its probe into anti–Vietnam war protests. Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting antiwar slogans. . . . That’s the seven o’clock edition of the news, goodnight.