The song “What a Wonderful World” seems to get lots of airplay at Christmas time. With no effort I can hear Louis Armstrong’s voice in my mind, a beautiful combination of gravel and silk, as he croons, “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by.”

Christmas is a time of year that often brings out the best in people. It is an annual reminder that the God of the universe became human in an act of love for each one of us. It gives everyone an opportunity to pause, to rest, and to be together as family and friends. Even my neighbours who are Sikh take a break on Christmas and wish me the best of the season. And as I type these words, we’ve just had our first snowfall. The Christmas spirit is rising!

In the midst of gifts, Christmas trees, turkey, and all the other ways we celebrate, sometimes we forget that Jesus’ birth was both miraculous and illegitimate. Christ’s virgin-mother and her fiancé were dirt poor and had to welcome him in a less-than-sterile barn surrounded by farm animals (and their smells).

Jesus came to introduce a new way to live.

He invited us to demonstrate his way by practicing it in our own lives. Many people today, as they did in Jesus’ day, seek money, fame, and power – even Christians. We define success as wealth and pay attention to the opinions of Hollywood and CEOs. Jesus’ way is more concerned with giving than receiving, humility than fame, and weakness than strength. He tells us that his provision and strength are enough for all of us. It was revolutionary at the first Christmas and it is still revolutionary today. Jesus tells us we’re all equal and introduces a way of life that stands in sharp contrast to the world around us.

And frankly, I like it.

I’m reminded of this revolutionary way of life daily in my work with people with disabilities at Christian Horizons. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul paints a picture of the church as Jesus’ body. Jesus is the head, and all of us make up the different parts. He says all parts are important and have a purpose. Then he goes further and says, “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” (1 Cor 12:22-23, NIV)

You may be asking yourself, “How is this related to Christmas?” Louis Armstrong, Jesus, Paul, and now people with disabilities? At Christmas, Jesus introduced us to a whole new set of values. Up is down, the weak are strong, the poor will inherit the world, and people who seem to be weaker are in fact the ones we really need. Jesus’ values are the opposite of the world’s values.

This Christmas season is a great time to start demonstrating the way of Jesus by practicing his values. If you’re out in the community, take a moment and look around whatever room you’re in right now. If less than 1 in 7 people around you have a disability (the Canadian average) then they are not being properly represented. Even though much of the developed world has laws around accessibility and accommodates people with disabilities in certain ways, they often still face significant barriers and marginalization.

May this Christmas be a time of peace, hope, and rest for you, wherever you are and whatever your situation. And if you hear Louis Armstrong’s song, let it remind you to make the world wonderful for someone else – to give instead of receiving – and be a little bit of heaven to others on earth.

Merry Christmas!

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world