As a little girl climbed onto Santa’s lap, Santa asked the usual question, “And what would you like for Christmas?” The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: “Didn’t you get my E-mail?”
Remember when you were young, when nothing seemed impossible or so much more seemed possible—when a kindly old man at the North Pole wanted to make you and everyone else happy. Believing wasn’t an option then. Back then, it wasn’t a choice because it all just made sense. (I mean of course it’s all true….)
But it’s also true that expectations don’t always live up to their billing and high hopes don’t always come to pass. Perhaps we’ve had wonderful Christmases every year, but for others, Christmas doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles they see that others get. Not everything we wish for or believe can come to pass.
Many of us have seen the Sesame Street Episode when Elmo makes a wish that every day is Christmas. What sounds like a great idea to a little kid/muppet hits some unforeseen problems. Nobody works because it’s a holiday. Everybody keeps eating too much. Toys get thrown out because of overload. Elmo has to accept that some things aren’t meant to come true. But he only gives up after quite a bit of time and because of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that Christmas every day isn’t such a great gift.
Christmas isn’t for every day, and it shouldn’t be, at least not the Christmas of toys and treats. That’s for once a year.
But the Christmas of God’s love born in Christ Jesus is every day, even if we don’t always feel or understand it. The belief that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it, is for every day even if the darkness at times seems stronger than light. The hope for peace and justice throughout the world is for every day, even if doesn’t come to pass as much as we want, or others desperately need. And things for ourselves and between us and others doesn’t always work out, but it’s our divine gift to keep believing they will.
We don’t want to relinquish our faith. Keep believing. Actually, we should keep believing in believing. We need an extra line of defense against the power of disbelief. It’s sort of like we need to be reminded to be reminded, to remember to remember.
I know that keeping the faith isn’t always on the top of our minds. We assume it will be there when we need it. We still have enough we think. We’re doing fine, and things are working out.
I understand. I can run on fumes sometimes in the faith department also. I know God loves me, but I have to resist honking at someone who needs to go back to driving school. I know Christmas means God came to us in the babe of Bethlehem born in a stable, but I don’t always feel so compassionate to the needy, to my neighbor, to a family member. I’d like to keep Christmas all year round too, but in the blistering hot days of July and August this celebration feels along way away.
What we feel because of what is said or done by others or by what we see is happening can override what we believe. It can break down our walls that God puts up in our hearts and minds to assure us that good is stronger than bad, blessings more abundant than hardships, that the love of God is already yours, to be lived, and shared.
Keep your belief as your strength. God’s gift of faith mustn’t be squandered or given away. Keep believing in believing. Don’t let the heart you have now go away.
Too often the issue is we think we’re not getting enough from someone else to feel what we want to feel. We’re dependent on someone else to fill us up, to give us enough love for us to feel it, to shore up our faith.
The truth is that we’re not always going to feel love or even feel that the persons closest to us love us. I’m not trying to be harsh. I’m just saying that life gets in the way. They’re too busy, or too occupied or anxious about something, or we’re taken for granted, or they just assume you know, or maybe you’re feeling bluesy and vulnerable and they’re not. They can’t keep telling you it. They can’t, and we don’t. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not like we’re always giving off the vibe that we’re in love with our spouse or partner or special friend, or that you especially love a parent or a child. Not all the time, that’s for sure. We don’t have time or the energy or the need to keep spreading the love.
Nobody can be responsible for someone’s faith.
What I’m saying is that we go by what we’re feeling or someone’s actions too often. We don’t want it to be this way. We don’t want our love to be dependent on their love, and our faith rely on how we feel because of what others make us feel and believe. Your love life is your responsibility. The strength of your faith is in your hands. You’ve got the power over what the world brings. Believe in what you believe in.
Isn’t this why we love Christmas? Christmas eve and Christmas help us to believe. Now all we’ve got to do is keep the faith. The other night I was all propped up on some pillows sitting in bed watching football on the TV. I would have been in the family room on the big screen but someone who will remain nameless was playing Fortnite on it…. Anyway, oh by the way, I guess I should say I wasn’t watching American football; it was the original football, soccer.
I was starting to fall asleep, not because it was soccer and most Americans think it’s boring, because it’s not, not once you get the hang of what you’re looking at and what’s happening, I promise. But I’m all propped up, my head’s starting to droop over my chest, when all of a sudden sometime later, I force my head up and take a big gulp of air. I don’t know how long I had gone without breathing but I know I needed some O2.
Some people do this when they’re sleeping, just regular sleeping flat on the bed. Sleep apnea, it’s called. It’s not good. Someone recently told me they knew someone who didn’t breathe for a couple of minutes!
Listen: We may have belief apnea. We forget to believe! We forget to believe in keeping hope. We stop believing in the power of peace. We’ve neglected making joy an important part of our life. We’ve stopped believing the love God is and shares.
You know, maybe that’s what Christmas is. We believe again. We’ve stopped believing for a while or a long time, and finally this night comes, and we’re ready to take in huge amounts of the love, joy, hope, and belief that this night gives, enough, well, enough to last perhaps a long time….
We need to keep believing in believing. We need to keep breathing in our faith. Because the story is true. God is real. Love is the way. Hope brings life. Peace is near. Joy shall be yours.
Keep your faith alive. Believe.
Merry Christmas to all.