The conviction of Christmas
From 1972 to 1983, M*A*S*H* became one of the most popular television series of all time. Initially intended to be a comedy about a medical unit in war-torn Korea in the early 1950s, M*A*S*H* progressively began to examine serious themes.
On several occasions, the program was set during the Christmas season and, while the scenes were often funny and the characters true to form, the ever-present reality of war, suffering, tragedy, and death could not be ignored.
In the 1980 episode, “Death Takes a Holiday,” the Christmas party takes off without a hitch. Colonel Potter dresses as Santa Claus and the children are having fun, but Hawkeye, B.J., and Margaret miss out on the festivities when a mortally wounded man lands in pre-op.
When learning the man is a husband and loving father, B. J. tries with all his might and skill to delay the man’s death so his family won’t remember this Christmas as the day their daddy died.
The truth is that every Christmas season sees war, hunger, poverty, suffering, violence, and death somewhere in the world.
Yet, even with this backdrop, the carols are being sung, prayers and Communion are being offered in countless churches, trees are ablaze with lights, and gifts await the coming morning.
Christmas Eve, however grim the circumstances, is filled with hope. Christmas Day, however bleak the prospects, is filled with celebration.
Isaiah 9:5 expresses the hope that war will be no more: “For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.”
The Psalmist looks for a “new song” to be sung to the One who will ultimately “judge the peoples with equity ...” and “will judge the world in righteousness.”
This hope, in the midst of dark times, is found in the manger of Bethlehem. As Simeon exclaimed in Luke 2:30 upon seeing Jesus, “For my eyes have seen Thy salvation ...”
Christmas is not a time to ignore the harsh realities, but it is a time to believe with faith and conviction that the light will conquer the darkness.
Help us to grasp, O God, the reality of Thy gift to us. Enable us to be people of hope and faith who walk in Thy light and do not fear the darkness.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277.On Christmas Eve, services will be held at 7:30 p.m. and on Christmas Day services will be held at 10:30 a.m.