Hope! Peace! Joy! Love! Light! Jesus Christ!
These words of advent and Christmas are full of meaning and speak so powerfully in light of our current reality. We come to Christmas again this year, many of us weary of an ongoing pandemic, disappointed that Christmas Eve service is a Zoom service for a second year, struggling with how to manage family gatherings with growing restrictions, fearful that our next cold symptoms could be Covid, and that our mental health could suffer even more. Along with the pandemic reality and restrictions is the sobering reality that many in our congregation have suffered the loss of a loved one in their lives this year. We, or our family members and friends, are facing Christmas for the first time without a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, or friend.
In the midst of these, and other struggles, Christmas invites us to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus and also the truth of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and coming again. The coming of Jesus is our salvation story, and all of creation is invited to dance, sing, and celebrate. But we are so exhausted. How is it possible to bridge the gap between our sorry reality and the glad, grateful recognition of God with us in Jesus the Christ? We do that by remembering that the story of Christmas and Jesus is the story that was birthed by our God of love, because of the gap.
Author and poet Kathleen Norris reminds us that it’s precisely because we are weary and struggling that God can touch us with hope. Christmas does not ask us to ignore our pain and struggle, but to believe that the gift of Jesus was meant to meet and transform our struggles. As the martyred archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, once said, it is only the poor and hungry, those who know they need someone to come on their behalf, who can celebrate Christmas.
The world we live in does still live in darkness. We certainly need hope, peace, joy, light, and love. And the good news is that Jesus Christ came to bring that to us!
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined….
6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9)
May this child and son, who was Jesus the Christ, the reason for Christmas, fill you save you and provide for you this Christmas the hope, peace joy, love, and light that you need!
On behalf of Lloyd, Jean and myself, Merry Christmas, and a New Year filled with all the gifts that Jesus brings!