In 1966, Simon & Garfunkel sang a song called "The 7 O'Clock News." They sang Silent Night in two-part harmony. But then you hear the voice of a newscaster in the background who is speaking the news headlines from August 3, 1966. Richard Nixon said that we had to increase our efforts in the Vietnam War. Nine student nurses were murdered. A comedian died from a narcotic overdose at the age of 42. Martin Luther King speaks about civil rights & violence. Gradually, the news becomes louder to the point that it drowns out the song.
Some, or perhaps many of us, may also hear the news of our personal lives louder than the Christmas carols we are singing. And we realize that all is not silent or holy or calm or bright. "This is my first Christmas w/out my loved one. How will I pay the bills next month? I am worried about my health." We worry. We have fears. We have questions that go unanswered. How do I get in the Christmas spirit when there is so much sadness in my life?
But Christmas doesn't ask us to pretend that all is well. Rather we acknowledge out loud, to our ourselves, to others, even to God, that we have problems. Why? Because we cannot rejoice in the coming of a Savior until we realize how much we need a Savior. And we all need a Savior: someone who is wiser and more powerful than ourselves. We need Jesus to move from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross. We don't need him just as an infant in a manger but as a Savior on a cross.