Last night at a retreat I was introduced to this image of the Madonna and Child, sometimes called the Stalingrad Madonna.
It was penned by an army chaplain, Christmas 1942 when the siege of Stalingrad was underway. The artist, Kurt Reuber, drew the image on a map and penned around it the traditional German Christmas Greeting: Licht-Leben-Liebe or Light-Life- Love.
It stands now in a chapel of reconciliation in the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) in Berlin (you can read more about it here in German if you wish ).
Amidst everything else that is going on about Christmas in our culture I pondered a little just what Christmas must be like in the midst of this sort of great tragedy, and all you can do is draw. And the most appropriate things to draw is this mother with her baby
My standing at the supermarket and seeing $2.95 Santa gnomes and thinking ...I could buy 4 or 5 and put them round the garden seems remarkably trivial.
Don't get me wrong I am not one of those who thinks we should get rid of the Santa out of Christmas, Santa is a real expression of the world Jesus was born into...(my contribution to incarnational-atonement theology is that Jesus died for Fr Christmas. This is not a trivial statement, but you need to think about it.)
Any way, Licht-Leben-Liebe might get me through another day