Growing up, we had a cassette version of Psalty’s Christmas Calamity, a musical about a kids’ choir asked to sing at a local church on Christmas Eve. Psalty, their fearless leader (an animated songbook), is happy to help, but finding his Christmas pages to be too dusty (they haven’t been used since last year!), the kids decide to wash them. The pages shrink, and the music comes out all wrong. What is a choir to do?
Of course, along the way (spoiler alert!), the group learns that Christmas is not about perfection, but about love. You may have even heard their original song, “Christmas is a Time to Love” on the radio:
Maybe things don’t sound right
Or look the way they should
And maybe they’re not perfectly in tune
It really doesn’t matter
Let’s keep our eyes above
‘Cause Christmas is a time to love
The sentiment hits the nail on the head, and it’s a message that bears repeating around this time of year. We will lean in hard to that in our next several worship services as we retell the stories with many voices and songs.
But the message applies not just to the logistical and material. Sometimes the things that don’t sound or look right at this time of year are more hidden, held deep within the heart. It’s our first or fourteenth or fortieth Christmas without a loved one. Christmas falls too close to the anniversary of a past pain. The holidays of our childhood were not the idyllic ones portrayed in the movies. Our current health or family or financial situation leaves us feeling less than whole.
Whatever those things are, we are not alone in them. In fact, if I had to venture a guess, I’d say most of us have Christmases that are—if not blue—at least purple. There are tinges around the edges of hopes not fulfilled, muted joys, and peace that evades us. We want to welcome God’s ultimate and eternal gift of love, but wonder whether we are worthy enough vessels in our (internal or external) disarray.
The good news is, God’s Christmas answer is, “yes.” Yes, Mary, you are the one I choose, age and marital status notwithstanding. Yes, Joseph, stick with your betrothed despite how it looks; I have a plan here. Yes, outcast shepherds, you get to hear it first. Yes, humanity, I choose to dwell in your skin, your struggles, your suffering. Yes, you are enough.
While we are not having a longest night or blue Christmas service this year, I’m sharing this liturgy that you may want to read through if and when the somberness settles in. In psalms and songs, prayers and silence, light and darkness, may God’s love meet us wherever we are on the Christmas spectrum.