I watch this every year, because I’ve always loved this story.
This time of year, I’ve written before, is about grace from unlikely beginnings and light in dark times. The older I get, the less interested I am in the war on Christmas, the war over Christmas, the endless back and forth. It’s exhausting, and it isn’t the point. I’ve never understood why science is a threat to belief, why the earth has to be a certain age, why it matters that Jesus was born in summer, how long it really took the wise men to reach him. I’ve never understood why what we learn about the world has to destroy the stories that make us want to live in it. I’ve never understood why we’re at war at all.
Even if they’re only stories, the tales we hear this time of year, there are worse things than stories, especially stories that remind us what a radical act it is to trust that the world will swing toward light again. We never think it will, even though it always has. We have terribly short memories, so hope is always a radical act. We are always more than we think we are, and making the particulars of what we call that — God, our innate human beauty, nothing at all — into a bludgeon is the blasphemy, when the best weapon anyone ever had in darkness was a torch.
If I have a doctrine at all at this point and I’m not sure I do, it’s this: Come inside. Everyone come inside. It’s cold and dark out and there’s a fire here, and the only story worth anything is the one we’ll tell tomorrow about what we did today. Come inside. Even if you’re poor, or you’re sick, or you’re angry, or you’re lost. Even if you’re not sure what you are yet. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever know. Come inside.
Even if all this is, is a manger, even if there’s only straw on the floor and the only stars that drape the door are the ones in the sky, come inside.