Like the best chocolate, Christmas, well-kept, is bittersweet.
Each year we anticipate the sweetness of Christmas. We prepare for it; we celebrate it. The sweetness of Christmas comes easily: the fragrance of evergreens, the ringing of bells, the glow of candles, the singing of carols, the joy of giving, the surprised delight of children, the gatherings of family and dear friends, and all the precious memories, bittersweet, of Christmas Past. Oh, the sweetness of Christmas: a baby asleep in a manger, and all heaven and earth proclaiming, "Hope! Peace! Joy! Love!"
And yet, there are those who will meet this Christmas with loss and pain and despair. There are, as always, the poor and those in desperate need. There are, as always, nations at war. There are, as always, those who mourn. For such as these the darkness of winter is dark indeed and Christmas, more bitter than sweet. Jesus walked among sheep without a shepherd and, one by one, he touched and healed and comforted. In his presence they found, as we still hope to find, peace and joy and love.
So, we will keep Christmas and try to keep it well. We will celebrate the birth in Bethlehem by making room in our hearts that Christ may be born in us. We will look upon the babe in the manger and see the man on the cross. Bittersweet! Like the angels we sing praises and speak peace. Like the Magi we offer gifts of adoration. Like the shepherds we "spread the word concerning... this child."
Hope! Peace! Joy! Love! Christmas... bittersweet.
Listen to Mark Lowry's "Mary, Did You know?"