As I write such a well known greeting, I am quickly reminded that for many of you, this Christmas won’t be as merry as the greeting assumes. The Christmas that our companies market to us is a Christmas that is tranquil, happiness-filled, present giving, family filled day. And while there are those who get to experience such a “made for TV” day like that, I know there are many of us who will experience the exact opposite. It isn’t lost on me that many do not actually look forward to this day or this season because for them, it doesn’t produce memories of joy, happiness, family, friends, and an ungodly amount of hallmark movies.
For some of you, this season reminds you of the loved ones who are no longer there to be merry with you, of the lost relationships with family or friends, of the financial stress this seasons creates or of the inability to provide for your family a “good” Christmas, of the sadness, of the loss, of the anxiety, of the pain. Can I be honest with you in this moment? I am in the latter of the two sides. With each passing year, the Christmas season is one of the hardest to get through. I’ve spent many Nov. 30th going to bed and praying that if and when I woke up, it would be Jan. 1st. There are a lot of painful memories and moments that have become linked to the Christmas season for me and I would suspect that there are many more out there feeling the same.
It can be easy for those of us who find this to be true to do what we always do every year around this time… withdraw and conceal. We hold our pain in for the sake of those around us who love this season as to not be a downer. Or, we lash out in anger and seek pity for ourselves. However, I want to offer a glimmer of hope…
to the hurting,
to the broken,
to the angry,
to the lost,
to the worried.
I want you to know and what I have to often remind myself in this season is that there is a love so radical, so audacious, so immeasurable – that it left the comforts of heaven to be with you and me in this world. As the hurt, pain, and brokenness grew among us, this love decided enough was enough and without a second thought, plunged into the depths of life on earth. Unlike anything we could have hoped for or imagined, this love was exactly what we needed.
This love is a reminder to us all that the Christmas season isn’t about the merry, it isn’t about the presents, it isn’t about the gatherings, it isn’t about the pain, the hurt, the loneliness, the shame, or the guilt. No, what Christmas is about is love and joy. Love so radical – it came to dwell with us, share in the mess with us, and ultimately die for us. Joy so unending – it breaks the chain of sadness, hurt, and pain.
One of the writers of the Bible tells the story this way:
“An angel of the Lord appeared to them (shepherds in the fields), and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11)
In a small, unknown and obscure town…love has come and it aims to take away the brokenness of this world. In the same way, the message to the shepherds on that faithful night is the same for you – do not be afraid, there is good news that will cause you great joy! A savior has come, a messiah has arrived, heaven has opened up, love is here and he’s here for you!
So lift your eyes,
change your perspective,
and weep no more.
Love has broken the chains of bondage that shackled us to our fears, our pain, our hurts, and given us new life to have a radical, audacious, immeasurable kind of joy. It won’t be easy, you won’t go from despair to joyful in one moment, but you can begin anew today. You can believe that this love, this savior, this messiah, this Jesus has come for you. And you can choose to believe this everyday for the rest of your life. I promise that if you do… you’ll find hope in this Christmas season and beyond because heaven has come and hope is on the horizon.