We look for certainty and security, predictability and comfort at Christmas every year. And then we start reading the real story of Christmas in Matthew and find anything but what we were looking for in the story. It isn't what we want to hear; but Jesus came to deal with what we can't--life's complications that require a savior--sin, death, and the devil.
A friend confided that she's always disappointed at Christmas. No one can make it as good as it's supposed to be. I'm dumbfounded and resist the urge to give her the advice I give my daughters, "SNAP OUT OF IT". She has children, a home, family (while imperfect) who love her, a husband who respects her, and her every basic need is met (and then some by global standards); yet she is still yearning for something more--some point of certainty in an uncertain world.
Reading Matthew we find out that Joseph had to be convinced by the angel to accept Jesus as his son. Next we learn that this same Jesus was wanted and hoped for by many. Visitors came bringing him gifts from the East. But then the story turns ugly. Children were killed as King Herod looked for Jesus. Jeremiah is quoted, Rachel is inconsolable. Bethlehem weeped, crying out to God. The prophet told Israel, Jeremiah 31:16-17
This is what the LORD says:
"Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,"
declares the LORD.
"They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your future,"
declares the LORD.
"Your children will return to their own land.
These words would be unheard through the weeping. But the promise would remain. Jesus came as the child of promise for a broken world. His birth did not redeem the world; that would require his own death.
Our holiday traditions are an attempt to find a fixed point in an uncertain world. We look for safety but there isn't any. We merge Christ's story with family traditions hoping that old stories and songs and rituals will keep us safe from our old enemies; but sin, death, and the devil are always there ready to destroy. Jesus came for this: to be the light house in the storm. His birth did not bring peace; but his death would bring life.