My grandmother used to help me to remember by saying, “Ricky, tie a string around your finger.” The logic, of course, was that when I saw the string, I would ask myself, “Why is the string there? Oh, I remember.” A string around my finger was kind of hard to forget.
Christmas, too, is like a string around my finger. I have a way of forgetting, so each year the celebration of Jesus’ birth is a reminder of at least three things:
First, Christmas is a reminder to me that Jesus Christ is both Other and Personal. This One whose creative power spoke everything into being also lived humbly.
Second, Christmas is a reminder of Jesus’ promise: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” With tomorrow’s uncertainty, He personifies hope that does not change.
And third, every Christmas is a reminder to leaders that the loudest voices are not always right.
While everyone else’s attention was on Governor Quirinius’ census, few even noticed the birth of all births in that Bethlehem cattle stall. His life was relatively obscure. He never won a single election; rather, the crowds voted to crucify Truth on the day He died alone. Christmas reminds leaders that virtue is not determined by majority vote (electoral or popular), but only through gracious self-disclosure when God became flesh and showed us how to live.
Christmas is a string around my finger to remember that Jesus’ way has always been followed by a minority. This year a sea of hostile voices contending for power have saturated my senses. So I really need Christmas lest my soul forgets that it is the narrow way that leads to life.