Holding out Hope for Christmas

A few of my favorite things......

I never really understood it until I heard it explained out loud. As I heard them struggling to articulate it, that feeling of wanting to escape every Christmas, something about the way they explained it made sense. It clicked into place for me and I suddenly understood.

I realized that all my life, I hadn’t been sensitive enough to that. I remembered how each year my Dad would say that all he ever wanted to do at Christmas is go up to a quiet little cabin in the snow and decorate a little Christmas tree with pinecones and little red balls and nothing else. We all kind of made fun of him for that. It’s not what we wanted.

That little cabin held out hope for him. It was a way of wishing away all the bad Christmases he had as a child.The ones that always started out pretty good,until the drinking started. After that it turned into a screaming match between his parents. It was slamming doors and chaos and throwing things. And always, someone walking out the door. Hope dashed.

To far too many people, Christmas is a time that evokes very powerful emotions and feelings that they don’t want to bring back. And to be honest, even though I only have happy memories of Christmas, sometimes I want to cower in a corner at the madness it’s become.

It’s like the other day I set out to get gas and a few other items I had on my list. I went all the way to the service station and it was crazy. People were parked every direction and it was packed. And maybe it’s because this year I have made a concerted effort to be calm and slow down to not join in.

Something in me switched off and I just couldn’t do it.

I took a deep breath, turned the car around and headed back to my quiet corner of the world. I went to my little car wash and took my time drying off the car, chatting with the gentleman next to me. Then I took a little scenic drive and on the way home I got gas. My spirit lifted and my heartbeat slowed. I felt myself relax.

I set up the manger scene, and then I went inside to get a few things online. I thought about all the rushing around that was taking place at that very minute. Out in the world.

It was into this chaotic world of dysfunction that Jesus was born. And His earthly parents didn’t have it easy either. Joseph had his perfectly ordered world turned upside down when Mary presented him with the news that she was pregnant. And Mary……she couldn’t hide her condition. I am sure everywhere she went, there were whispers of scandal.

And then she had to have her baby far away from her Mom and sisters, cousins and friends. In a cold stable.

But I think that is precisely why Christmas can hold so much hope for all of us.

I guess you could say that Mary and Joseph’s situation is ours too, for it’s in the middle of all that dysfunction and misery that God shows up. The light of Christ shines all that brighter amidst the backdrop of hopelessness.

That’s the great hope I hold out today. And I want you to know…….

If you are grieving this year, or desperately craving peace. If you are trying to bury pain or battling loneliness, either by yourself or in a crowd. If you are trying to outrun old memories that never seem to go away. If tears are falling. If you are spinning plates in the air trying to get things done, things you will forget about by New Year’s?

Just trust me on this.

Jesus is your answer. Always. He is our hope. Our Christmas.

Mine looked a bit different this year. The lights didn’t go up, but the manger scene did. The house is decorated to the hilt and I enjoyed every minute of it. I got to help some people out who needed it and went to hear the Phoenix Symphony perform Handel’s Messiah. We went to a wonderful High School Christmas play because one of E’s kids asked if she’d be there. What a blessing it was to see those kids perform.

I have slowed down and enjoyed every minute.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

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