The Merry Christmas

“Openness involves a hunger for life. Our arms must reach out to the other, which requires a position of vulnerability. We are made for the dance of intimacy. They are invited in as guests and not as strangers.”

“Opening the heart to face the complexity of living in this world requires waiting for truth to come to us. Change comes not from our will, but from God’s mercy. We must stretch out our arms to life but God moves when He will.”

“The embrace is an accurate metaphor to encompass what is involved in walking the healing path to God. There are four elements to an embrace: opening the heart instead of cynically shutting down; waiting with anticipation rather than killing hope; encircling the other instead of standing alone; Letting go of the moment.”

Dan B. Allender Ph. D.




“Merry Christmas” is the word this year, everywhere we turn. Typically, it comes out of my mouth first and others repeat it back. Sometimes, however, folks initiate it to me. Is this Christmas spirit a kind of defiance?

I gave it some thought. No, not a rebellious spirit is driving me to “Merry Christmases” this year. On the contrary, providing the impetus for me is the very negative thought of reverting to some kind of stoic, empty existence. “No, I will not become a robot; an impersonal mover through life without touch, or expressions of kindness, or love.” This kind of thinking only encourages a kind of “woe is me.”

As Christians, God has done major work in many of us to just get up the nerve to talk to another person. In my life it has taken years to come out of myself and that sacred work of God has resulted in who I am now. See, to shut me up now is an affront to that entire package which God has invested into me toward healing this weird, introverted, bondage-bearing dude.

He has set me at liberty and now I fight for that freedom. I fight the devil, I fight devil-influenced people, I fight my own desires to go back into my shell. It’s more than a religion that I exhibit outwardly, or wear on my cuffs or sleeves. It is the birth of “my” Precious Savior that I celebrate, yes Emmanuel. The Christ Child, my God and yours, the Healer, Redeemer, Mighty God; we love and adore Him.

The throne of iniquity frames toil, wearing effort; hence worry; whether of body or mind, grievance, iniquity, labor, mischief, misery, pain, perverseness, sorrow, travail, trouble, wickedness, anguish. He uses a law and rules, and this is written in Psalm 94 as an application. For this cause, the Babe came as a man to save His people from themselves, then from the “selves-egger-onners,” and yes, from counter-productive rule-smiths. These hideous entities we despise.

“Openness involves a hunger for life. Our arms must reach out to the other, which requires a position of vulnerability. We are made for the dance of intimacy. They, (others), are invited in as guests and not as strangers.” Dan B. Allender here describes individuals who, like The Christ, reached out to others, submitted to vulnerability, did more than just stand by, and have accepted others as guests. These have risked their own safe well-being to express something to and for another. Is this not the very image of God being displayed?

See, that child, Jesus, has given us a hunger for life. Allender again speaks “Opening the heart to face the complexity of living in this world requires waiting for truth to come to us.” To apply this thought to our simple Merry Christmas greeting, no, there is no guarantee of a simple response from the other and sometimes we wait. Sometimes we experience rejection. Sometimes we are met with the cold stare.

In closing, when the star shone bright and the first manger set was set on display, Jesus was essentially saying “Merry Christmas” world. Responses differed –- inn-keeper, nay; shepherds, yea; King Herod? – a big nay. The angels brought an announcement, the wise men? — a great yea.

“The embrace is an accurate metaphor to encompass what is involved in walking the healing path to God.” The humble Christ, condescending to us men of low estate, instigates and awaits a hug. His love-demonstration is initiating a dance. Do we give it a whirl? Do we receive its kiss? Do we allow its encirclement? Do we adopt its spiritual sweeping off of our feet?

Finally, Christ came to give us abundant life, to set captives free from them selves. It’s the liberated life that is so rare that the meanies want to quash. “Please don’t take away my life and make me go backwards. It has taken too many painful episodes to gain the extroverted ability.” Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. The captives have been set free. Make this year one of our greatest of joy and peace. Love ya

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