Christmas Eve 2015. I sit by my window watching the snow continue to fall, as it has for days and days. Its pristine beauty and sound softening aesthetics belie the frustration it brings to my spirit. Winter laid claim to my plans for a Christmas trip home to be with my family for the first time in three years. This year more than any, I needed to embrace the warmth, understanding, and love of family. To be with my mother and father who have had a difficult time this year and a brother and sister in-law whom I have not seen enough of in 2.5 years.
For sure, this would not be a traditional Christmas for my family had I made it home. My mother, seriously ill and hospitalized in a state of confusion and despair would be our point of gathering – not around a brightly lit Christmas tree with presents galore.
For sure, my heart will not be as full of joy as in recent years, as a wonderful chapter of my life has changed course and I find myself once again, walking alone pondering my future with a tattered heart.
Around me marriages are crumbling, trusts have been broken, a child sits in jail, suicide has claimed a family’s idea of forever and always, and others treasure every moment of what may be a last Christmas with loved ones. The world around me feels distraught if not chaotic- plunged into a darkness where even acts of charity are questioned for their ultimate goals, while hunger, strife, terror, desolation, and frustration tear at our nation’s unique fabric- once held together by common beliefs and goals – now splintered across a dark abyss.
We are broken and yet, in this darkness we try to make do, engaging in the wonderful merriment of holiday festivities while others shop to the point of exhaustion, physically and budgetary. We try to make our lives more perfect for this special time of year until our perfect plans and family gatherings go awry and our high expectations for the holidays go unmet.
Tonight brings to a culmination all of our humanly efforts to be perfect hosts and perfect people in pursuit of joy – our efforts to cast away the darkness in the world. We are not ready, some will say! Some will find themselves alone, longing for home. Others will wish they were alone, longing for peace.
And yet tonight, despite all our brokenness, turmoil, and testiness, despite our deemed lack of preparedness, despite this present darkness we are trying to cast away CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR COMES! BECAUSE of our brokenness, turmoil, and testiness, because of our deemed lack of preparedness, because of this present darkness we are trying to cast away, tonight CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR COMES!
Christ comes to give us LIGHT! He brings light to the one who is alone longing for home and light to the one who wishes to be alone, longing for peace. What an amazing gift! What wondrous love!
Truly the the most awe inspiring gift from God is our redemption and freedom in Christ to live lives worthy of His sacrifice for us. As I relish in this truth, I feel so blessed to be alive, my heart beating, breathing in His creation, and shining His grace into the world. Immanuel, God is with us and IN us!
Tonight as we celebrate Christ our Savior’s birth, I will be celebrating the new life each of us has each day in Him. As I sat in church, listening to the Christmas Story, hearing the sermon, I realized I was sitting with people just like me. Each of us broken and each of us a masterpiece, made in His image and given newness in Christ, Our Savior’s LIGHT. Let His light shine that beautiful reality on you. Let His light shine through you – through your outreach, your talents, your witness to the world, your love.