“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” often seems like an apt, if a tad mellow dramatic, description of the Christmas season as minutes and hours, dollars and diet resolutions roll away from us like some character in Alice in Wonderland who has finally lost her head. The breathless pace of the Holiday season keeps us from pondering for too long on the reality that, in fact, an entire year has just rolled away, never to return, never to be relived. By the time we’ve shopped, sipped and celebrated our way to January 2nd, we’re ready to to hit the new year running, on the tread mill, stomach rumbling with juice cleanse and head raging into the future filled with resolutions on how to better use our time, as another hour eludes our grasp.
So often time is my white whale, the thing I chase after incessantly, the thing I imagine might contain the justification of my existence, if only I could catch it. These last six months Patrick and I have been particularly haunted by time as we’ve raced against the clock to prepare not merely for a new year but for the coming of a brand new life. The rapidly approaching birth of our first child is the greatest source of excitement and joy, but also of anxiety: What will the time be like when he arrives? How will this new person mark his time on this earth? Where will we all find the necessary time? But, of course, what is more timely to the Christmas season than anxiously awaiting a new birth, for all of us, that timeless one in Bethlehem over two-thousand years ago.
Surrounded as we are by creches, carols and Christmas cards it seems almost cliche to be reminded of the birth of Christ. This seasonal saturation can sometimes make the Lord’s birth seem like a time-worn tradition as opposed to an eternal promise. A Promise that sits astride time as the conquering hero, a promise that does contain within it the justification of our existence. The promise of Christ’s saving grace for all ages and in all times can not be underestimated. If the Child in Bethlehem was only for then, or if His message can be changed to fit the times now, then all that wine and wrapping paper, maybe a token prayer at dinner time, really is the meaning of life. And if the message of Christmas only exists in our experiences then we’d better keep up the race for more and more meaningful events. Quick! Stop reading! You’ve already lost too much time! But if Christ was born, died and rose again once and for all for the sins of mankind and the salvation of those who believe, as pre-ordained by His Father God before the beginning of time, then each life, each new baby born, exists in God’s time, works, plays, loves in the fullness of time, without a moment’s loss, without the endless pursuit of a white whale to justify the ticking away of the seasons, the rush and wonder of the years.
Patrick and I can relax, because whether or not we finish organizing the house or buying diapers and toys, our child will be born into moments of purpose and joy, not because we have mastered the art of using every minute to it’s fullest but because God has. Because friends and family and fun at Christmas are all just a part of another day to remember that baby born in a manager. A day that can not be measured in the smallness of the success or failure of our time but in the infinite love and salvation of Jesus Christ, for all lives, for all of time.
By Lisa Begakis Cusack | Freelance writer