It's Christmas time and my lights are up.
We've feted Svatyj Nikolaj and dropped gold coins in the children's shoes.
The music gets better every year, maybe. We've already watched "It's a Wonderful Life," "Christmas Story," even the laugh track from National Lampoon.
The Wise Men and Shepherds are illuminated from within by 110 volt incandescent bulbs. Straw. Plastic camels. Jury-rigged stars that don't quite achieve the strange beauty that must have been.
We must every year strive to delve into the Nativity Feast deeper, underneath the Hallmark rum-soaked sheen of blurry sentimentality. We suspect, with the passing years, that peace on earth is not a matter of holding hands or wishing cheap happy thoughts.
Well, though, who am I to judge cheapness or superficiality?
Anyone who smiles in the darkness, in the cold, is one who adds a little to the little flame.
Take, for example, the Angels in Juarez, Mexico, who fly every day to the corpse-souvenirs of the American drug consummation -- and there are, in this malodorous harvest, six or seven of these every single live-long day.
I think these angels, who are simple evangelical kids who are so emboldened by faith, and so grieved by the culture of death around them -- I think these sort of angels are the only ones God wil permit us to see any more.
The bright shiny heavenly host angels of Luke chapter 2 are withheld from us -- at least the clear percept of them.
But we will see these more familiar ones nowadays, and we will see the paint, and the young brave faces underneath the outstretched wings.
Because God wants us to know the cost of peace.
Because God wants us to see what hunger for righteousness really means.
Because God wants us to know what America costs.