"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Turning on the news lately rattles me. I find I'm guarding more than ever what I take in and read about the world today because it often makes my heart quicken and I become overwhelmed by all that must be done to mend hearts and nations and wounds.
And this week, we usher in Christmas.
In recent years our family's Christmases have been both joyous and painful, full of gifts and full of loss. Life's difficulty doesn't abate until December 26th and I know many of you are in the thick of circumstances that stretch you, that distract your heart and mind from this season's glad tidings. How does a mother making Christmas swoop her children up with jolly if she carries grief in her heart? How can a community reeling with the pain of injustice brought against them stand and worship and sing with joy?
Christmas can carry both.
If you are struggling this season, it may seem strange to celebrate and be feasting. But, friends, it is in this feasting that the beauty of Christ is made manifest. Our lives are messy. They are complicated. They are broken. And the beauty of this season of Advent, of waiting and preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus, is that he does indeed come! He cuts right through the hurting of our hearts, the darkness of our communities, the bleakness of our sin and he is Emmanuel; God with us.
And so we must remember more than ever it seems, that His coming matters. It matters to us every day in our grouchy moments, in the ones that catch us with guilt, in the times that bring us to a place of being undone. In the years where we are less than all our ideals. The juxtaposition of Christ’s coming in the shadow of the hurting world reminds us of our desperate need for Jesus to be here with us. We are desperate for him alone.
Wherever you are this Christmastide, take heart and take hold of hope. Christ is here.
Merry Christmas friends,