My son is ready for Christmas. It’s earlier than usual for him — though he’s admittedly still behind Lowe’s. But for some reason my son’s already catching the Christmas spirit. He’s turned Christmas lights on in his room. He put up a few other decorations. And he’s wearing Christmas jammies.
At first, I wondered why. I’m a bit of purist and think we shouldn’t start putting up Christmas stuff yet. But on second thought I realized we do seem to be in a time in need of Christmas. C.S. Lewis famously wrote about the problem of “always winter, but never Christmas.” And 2020 feels like just such a time without Christmas (and it might be a year without normal Christmas activities like candlelight services, cantatas, caroling, and even large family celebrations).
This year seems like a time when we’re at risk of losing hope. This year seems like a season when people wonder if salvation will come. Like that first Christmas, we live in a year of a census and a time of rising authoritarianism.
And then there’s the news that our country can’t find the parents of 545 children that our government separated from their parents at the border.
I’ve struggled to process that news. There are 545 children in detention, separated from their parents for years. Some separated children were just infants. And some died in our custody.
And this immorality was done in our name by the government we support with our taxes. We can’t be pro-life and condone that news. We can’t follow the biblical commands to welcome the stranger and look the other way at that news. We can’t love our neighbors and cross by on the other side of the road when we hear that news.
As I checked on my sleeping son last night, with his room glowing with Christmas lights, that news hit me again. And the only words that came to mind were those of the prophet. I can’t wait until Advent this year for a “seasonal” reading of them. The moral condemnation is upon us now.
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
If we’re going to play the role of a Christmas villain (and not in a light-hearted grinchy way), then we might as well leave our pretty lights under a bushel this year. Despite what my son thinks, it’s too early to celebrate Christmas. But I hope it’s not too late.