On Faith: In dark season, searching for holiday's meaning

As I reflect upon the coming of Christmas and all that has led up to it, I cannot help but yearn to experience the miracle once again. Advent demands that we look at the darkness of our world so that we can prepare our eyes to find the light. With last week's horrific shooting still raw, it seems the darkness is even darker than we could have imagined.

The cultural Christmas we've created for ourselves, where the season's colors are red and green — the red "Sale" sign and the green dollar — is not enough. And no matter how many discounts the big box stores offer us, we cannot buy our way to happiness this year. We're going to have to look deeper.

I wonder if the tragedy in Connecticut will jolt us out of the commercial haze that surrounds Christmas and offer us an intended gift: the realization of what Christmas is really all about.

After all, the Christmas story was always countercultural. There weren't Christmas trees or twinkling lights or even Santa Claus. It's the story of God breaking into a broken and hurting world, to the poor and disenfranchised, in the form of the most helpless among us. To think, our God comes not in the form of a king or a CEO yielding power, not in the form of a warrior armed with ammunition, not even clad in red and white with a sack full of iPads.

God came as a baby. Filled with hope, yet oh-so-vulnerable, this baby reminds us of all the promise of humanity and all the power of the divine. We are called to care for that baby and learn from his wisdom. He is both the most vulnerable among us and the savior that can redeem us from the mess of the world we've found ourselves in.

The story's power comes in its simplicity.

The story's power comes in its complexity.

Perhaps this year Christmas will find us in our most helpless, raw moments and gift us with a quiet miracle — the kind that comes in the stillness of the night or in the warmth of an embrace, the kind that money cannot buy and can't be wrapped up neatly in a box. Divine love broke into the world to shine a light on the pain and darkness, and it breaks into our world today. This Christmas, give it and be open to receiving it.

THE REV. DR. SARAH HALVERSON is the pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.

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