During busy holiday seasons where the Beach Boys sing to us about “Little Saint Nick” as we wait in line for our iced grande, non-fat, caramel macchiatos at Starbucks, it’s easy to forget what Christmas is all about. And by the way, I don’t mean this in a typical, don’t-forget-the-meaning-of-Christmas type of way. I think we Christians do a pretty good job reflecting on God’s amazing love that was revealed through Christ’s birth, and we’re quick to remember that Christmas is about more than presents and holiday cheer. That’s not what I’m referencing–I’m talking about the fact that Christmas is a decision for reproach (shame or disgrace).
One of the first things that happened in the Christmas story is that someone had to choose to accept reproach to be a part of what God was doing in their generation. It cost Joseph and Mary their reputations and their dream wedding to participate in the Christmas story–they had to decide that God had indeed spoken to them, and then stake their lives to that belief no matter the cost. And it’s still that way for us today–following Jesus always means reproach. In a society that prizes and prioritizes comfort, convenience, and reputation, are we willing to embrace the inevitable reproach that accompanies following Jesus? If we are, then we’ve landed on the true spirit of Christmas.