Several Decembers ago, a good friend of mine said, “There’s so little magic in this @!#%?&! world, I’ll do whatever I have to, in order to keep it alive for them.” It was uttered as somewhat of a battle cry with the steely look I imagine soldiers have when facing the enemy line…her battleground being Dundrum on the second weekend in December.
This to me represents the paradox of Christmas for many. The grim acceptance of a broken world vs the desire to “keep the magic alive”. The thing is….the shoe always drops at some point. We all know this. We all know, it will most likely be a painful thunk. And yet, we persist in painting an illusion that is “magical”.
We have wonderful storytellers throughout the ages bringing us tales of fairies and wizards and superheroes. We are hopelessly in love with the idea of magic – an impossible way of making broken, ugly things right and bright and beautiful. This idea that there is some kind of power beyond the bonds of humanity that can bring about restoration and justice and good.
Wait a minute…that kind of sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Christmas. That old chestnut again. But before the war of materialism and merchandising, before antler footprints in icing sugar snow (that was another friend’s magic tactic), before sweet treats left out for the fat man in the red suit…
The celebration of the birth of God’s one and only son.
Here’s the thing – did you know that Christmas comes from Christ’s Mass, which, if we go back to the original Hebrew and Greek, translates to “the Messiah’s celebration of the Eucharist”. The Lord’s Supper.
So Christmas, the celebration of the birth of God’s one and only son, is actually a celebration of his last meal where he proclaimed his death and salvation for us. Birth and death, leading to rebirth – his and ours.
I know what you’re all thinking. “You’ve jumbled up your holidays. It’s not time for Easter yet.” But in order to properly celebrate his life, don’t we have to give thanks for his death, and more importantly, his victory over it? When we celebrate a person’s life, we often make a list of their achievements and successes, their greatest passions and relationships. What greater passion did Jesus have than to die for his people? What greater achievement was there than his resurrection from death?
So yes, Christ’s Mass. A miraculous celebration that gave birth to all sorts of great stories of good’s victory over evil. The difference being, this celebration is not painted in saturated Technichrome with a sweeping score. It’s not written up with hyperbole and fantasy in order to thrill and satiate.
A wise man once said something along these lines: Because of Christ, courage and generosity can be found in whatever wonderful or desolate place we find ourselves in.
Now that’s real magic. Power beyond the bonds of humanity that can bring about restoration and justice and good. Not to mention, joy, peace and goodwill towards all.
Wishing you all a truly magical Christmas.