The shepherds heard the good news from the angels and were bound to share it. So they didn't wait to get permission from the owners of the sheep. Straight away they stopped shepherding, abandoned their posts, left their flocks, and went to Bethlehem to greet the baby Jesus. Likewise, the soldiers didn't ask permission from the owners of the war. They stopped shooting, abandoned their weapons, left their trenches and went into No Man's Land to greet the enemy. And when they shook hands, I'm pretty sure Jesus was there.
It would be years before I learned that smiling Christians aren't denying reality; they are defying it. They aren't soaring above failure; they are just refusing to be defined by it. And it isn't that they never know despair. It's that they have been given a secret weapon to fight it. It's a weapon that no terrorists can get their hands on, no army or CIA agent can deploy, and no police department can buy. Forget the WMD's, the IED's, the enhanced interrogation techniques. There is no better weapon against the terrors of our times and no better defense against all the demons of despair than the joy that arms a comrade in Christ.
What then shall we do? I was pondering this question as I picked up my tree from Kate Sabatini yesterday. She's the one who coordinates ordering the outdoor trees for our neighborhood. She creates community once a year on her driveway as neighbors who don't know each other come to pick up their trees. Now, if we can organize a neighborhood to decorate for Christmas, why can't we organize it to practice Christmas the rest of the year? If we can buy trees, why can't we feed the hungry? Why can't we come together to find solutions to the housing crisis in this city? All I know is that if we don't come together to save others, we will not be prepared for God to come and save us.