Celebrating Christmas can get in the way of Christmas in an unholy way. That happens when we think we know what this party is about; as if it were days to worship a verbal construct. A building built from convictions about God and faith, or about not believing in God but in family, friends, fun or health.
The form of expression is different, the words differ, but in both cases, despite all the liveliness, it can still be a celebration of a kind of death. From the status quo. Because a believed hold is worshipped. ‘Certainly know that…’
‘There is no Christmas without you-ou-ou’ sounds from the ceiling at the hairdresser. Christmas in answer to the question that was not asked.
In his Messiah Handel shows how it can be done. He quotes Isaiah: ‘The people who wander in darkness see a bright light. Those who dwell in darkness are illumined by a great light.” Listen to the movement of the notes and you see the people zigzagging through the dark, now this way, now that way. Help where is the exit?
The deepest blessing and meaning of Christmas seems to me to be the encouragement to recognize that we do not know “the” exit, “the” answer to most of our questions, personal, social, political, existential, and that it is precisely in this that we know the key to discovering it is offered. In that sense, Christmas is therefore an intense emancipatory celebration. It tells us: if you think you know for sure where ‘the’ exit is, you will block the way out. A new day, a flow of life and developments, the ‘permanent emancipation’ of everything and everyone, they stand or fall on an honestly confessed realization that they do not know what it would look like.
“The people who wander in darkness see a brilliant light.” To know the Christmas grace is as much as to know what essentially is your place in the scheme of things; to dare to accept the ‘division of roles’. The light gladly shows itself to the person who is not afraid of the dark. Social connections that recognize that they have lost their way discover life paths they never thought possible.
The People That Walked In Darkness. From: The Messiah by GF Handel. The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers. With Christopher Purves.