Last summer, Ken and I took our daughter Ruth to New York to see Aladdin on Broadway. The movie had been a favorite of hers as a child, and it was great fun to enjoy it with her. I approached the evening, though, with a bit of ambivalence. I, too, loved the movie; would the Broadway production meet our expectations?
The show was good, really good; but it was not as good as the movie. And of course there was the problem that since we had already seen the movie, knew the plot, and were aware of the happy ending to the drama, there was nothing new to look forward to.
Still, we had a marvelous time. And although part of it may have been the excitement of seeing a live play on Broadway, for the most part I believe it was the transforming power of the play itself. Despite the fact that this rendition lacked some of the magic spun by Robin Williams and that we already knew that Aladdin would get the girl and that Jafar would get what he deserved, it is a wonderful story of redemption.
Seeing Aladdin on Broadway gave us an opportunity to relive the story, to immerse ourselves in the drama, and to appreciate the power of truth, grace, and redemption. Sitting in those seats, we were able to live the story, again.
I believe that celebrating Christmas is much the same. We know the story, complete with details. Holiday celebrations often do not measure up to years past, our desires, or another’s expectations. And I have been told in the past by “mature” Christians that Christmas is the “lightweight” holiday, and that Easter is where our focus should be. I beg to disagree. While it is true that the celebration of Christmas has been diluted by hype and commercialization, it is, nonetheless, an opportunity for us to soak in the incredible truths of our need and God’s rescue mission initiated at the incarnation.
Yes, we know the plot and awful drama of the story, and its glorious end. And we may not be able to celebrate as we have in the past, or as some would have us celebrate. But each year the Christmas season invites us to partake anew in God’s infinite goodness. God incarnate, come for us, each of us, as we are, today. Such Love is worthy of our utmost attention and fullest response. May we savor the story and celebrate its message truly, deeply, and without measure.