This week we are surrounded by family and exchange gifts and express the sentiment “Merry Christmas!” or perhaps the more bland “Happy Holidays!”

But why?

The Fiscal Cliff stands ready to be plunged off of; volunteer firemen and school children are murdered by madmen; fools are in charge of important policies in our nation’s capitol and are – literally – destroying the greatest nation ever to emerge in humanity’s history; fill in your favorite complaint here … Please tell me exactly what there is to be happy or merry about?

The observation of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes that “There is nothing new under the sun!” seems particularly appropriate. Thousands of years ago – in the midst of destructive government and a society that tossed life away cheaply a simple and profound declaration was made by an angel:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

In the midst of the ignorance which passes for human wisdom; in the midst of human pain which we learn to endure; in the midst of human limitations which hold us down – there is good news … of great joy … for all people.

Christ is born …

The Word is made Flesh and dwells among us … Light has defeated darkness … Healing has defeated sickness … Hope has defeated despair … the curse of Sin has been broken and Life – here and now and eternally – real Life – is possible at last.

God is not mad at us. He is madly in love with us. He has shown us in the gift of His Son.

That’s what Christmas Day is all about. Regardless of which day in the year He was actually born, this day leads inextricably to the Cross and mere days later to an empty tomb.

There’s good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people … Christ is born.

Merry Christmas, my friends …