Letter from the Editor: Preparing Him Room

All at once, Christmas is here. Although it’s the same day every year—no shifting date as with Easter—I am surprised nonetheless. Where did the time go? A bit of research (i.e., two minutes online) tells me I may lack time perception, which is the inability to process the passing of time, how long things take, and the like. Maybe that’s why each year it’s the same thing: December 1 morphs into December 25 and I’ve lost the three weeks in between.

Advent observances are meant to help mark the days; I have yet to observe them consistently enough to nail down the days that want to drift away on winter’s wind. My inability to make sense of time is felt most at Christmas. Everywhere I turn, in both sacred and secular ways, December 25 is the goal, the magical date when Norman Rockwell’s idyllic visions are meant to descend upon the world. But every year, December 25 comes and life is pretty much the same, a mix of sacred and secular in me and around me, with some parts lifting high the Messiah’s coming, other parts unaware of reality.

But this is exactly why the Messiah has come. He rescues us from the ache of everything we cannot control—time, brokenness, sin’s sway. He comes because we cannot prepare properly enough. Only the Messiah can interrupt the patterns and create in us something better than Rockwell’s ideal.

In this issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, you’ll find thoughtful pieces marking the Messiah’s coming. In “Of Dying Kingdoms and Newborn Salvation: Resurrecting Christmas in the Poetry of T. S. Eliot,” Amanda Wortham recounts the ache of Christmas found within two Christmas poems by Eliot, “The Journey of the Magi” and “A Song for Simeon.” She says:

“It is possible to identify with both Simeon and the Magi King. While the miseries and the terrors of the world continue to amass, many of us work our way out of fearful paralysis by quiet faithfulness to ordinary duties. Simultaneously, we wander on a bizarre journey, unsure of what, exactly, we are searching for. We wait as we travel, and travel as we wait. We are, at once, exhausted and adventurous. We anticipate our Savior and go looking for Him.”

A bizarre journey, indeed. We are looking for the Messiah, knowing He is the only One who can make sense of our wanderings and our futile attempts to prepare Him room. Blaine Grimes offers an unexpected means of making room: Christmas-horror films. In “We Wish You a Scary Christmas: Holiday-Horror and the Glory of the Incarnation,” Grimes builds his case for this unusual pursuit of celebrating the Messiah’s advent:

“Scary seasonal tales fulfill an important devotional function by reframing the way we think of Christmas as a season of hope, joy, and peace. More specifically, the Christmas-horror canon hearkens back to the biblical incarnation narratives in a way that many of the more traditional holiday stories do not, and it thus holds the power to awaken our affections to see the glory of the incarnation.”

That’s not to say, however, that traditional Christmas stories lack power. In “Behold, I Make All Things New: Händel, George Lucas, and Some Okie Lutherans in a Drafty Church,” Luke T. Harrington provides a breathtaking account of God’s work to make new the things in and around us that are less-than ready for the Messiah’s coming:

“I think that’s the lesson of Christmas, or one of them, anyway—that to make something new, you have to make it your own. You have to climb inside it and rearrange it from the inside out. Pieces get recycled, reused, and put back where they were always supposed to be. New light is shone in dark corners, and the image of creation is remade in the image of creator.”

This is the hope of Christmas, is not not? That God steps inside and makes things new? For me, it is Good News that despite my broken sense of time and my broken ability to prepare Him the room He deserves, still He comes.

Together, these three features—along with selected pieces previous published at ChristAndPopCulture.com—call us to remember it’s time to celebrate the Savior’s arrival.

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out Seth’s graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.