Is anyone else feeling this way? 'It just doesn't feel like Christmas' seems to be the theme this year. I can't quite put my finger on where this is coming from, but I feel like it's a collective response from many of us who feel the grief covering our world.
Those who are sick. Those feeling loss. Those longing to have a family. Those struggling to provide the Christmas they want for their children. Those simply struggling to survive from day to day. Those who are cold. Those who are lonely. Those who are hurting. The list goes on and on. I, for one, am overwhelmed with thoughts like this a lot of days, but especially at Christmas. Everything seems to be magnified during the holidays...all the feelings get so big...both grief and joy.
I am choosing today to focus on the joy.
And when I say 'choosing', that is what I mean. That is not my default during the holidays. My heart breaks for so many, for so many reasons.
Christmas, really, is a time of celebration. A time of hope. A time where we were given the greatest gift. A time in history where the greatest stories ever told began.
It's not about the manger. It's not about the wise men. It's not about the shepherds.
It's about the gift. It's about a love so great we can never fully understand it. It's about a joy so pure it often makes no sense. It's about a hope that keeps many alive during the darkest nights.
And so, while this Christmas seems to be throwing us into a timewarp of some sort where days are long and slow yet they are flying by at lightening speed, where we're not quite sure what is happening...if it's the dragging on of this pandemic, the changing weather, the panic with the supply chain or concerns for Santa's safe and timely arrival. Whatever it is, we're all pretty sure it's June of 2020 yet somehow it's 3 days out from Christmas Eve of 2021. Despite all of this, can we take a moment to look for Christmas? Real Christmas?
I'm sure we'll find it in the faces of hurting, the hearts of the grieving, the shivering hands of the cold, the hospital rooms, the custody exchange drop-offs, the hungry bellies, and in any other place in need of hope. This is Christmas. This is the opportunity for the Gift.
Yes, there's the wide-eyed wonder, which if you know me you know I love. Yes, there's the joy of celebrations, of presents, of reunions, of lights and trees and glitter.
But these are not the desperate places that the baby was laid in the manger for. These are not the broken places where the hope of redemption and restoration gives new life.
I think this is Christmas. I think it's seeing the world and all it's scars and knowing that there is hope. Knowing that there is joy. Knowing that there is something greater.
So for this Christmas as my heart is heavy and the tears often come, I must also remind myself that while the hurt in this world is immeasurable, so is the love and hope of Christmas.
Luke 2:10 reminds us of this; "... the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people."
All people. Not just the pretty, the neat and tidy, the church-goers, the do-gooders...all people.
So can we answer the question of 'where are you Christmas?' with this? Christmas is all around. Love and hope - it's everywhere. Sometimes we need a reminder, sometimes we need to be that for someone else, sometimes we need to speak that life into a heart that cannot feel it on their own. This is the gift. This is what we have been given. This is what we need to share this Christmas.